Serie A’s decision to use three paintings of monkeys to illustrate a campaign to stamp out racism has been branded “a sick joke”.The paintings are intended to “spread the values of integration, multiculturalism and brotherhood” and will be on permanent display at the entrance to the Serie A headquarters in Milan, the league said in a statement.They were painted by artist Simone Fugazzotto, who is known for producing work focused almost entirely on apes.The league unveiled the project on Monday, although it was originally commissioned for the Coppa Italia final between Lazio and Atalanta last May.Italian football has been blighted by monkey chants and other incidents of racist abuse this season.Anti-discrimination organisation Fare network said on Twitter: “Once again Italian football leaves the world speechless.“In a country in which the authorities fail to deal with racism week after week #SerieA have launched a campaign that looks like a sick joke.“These creations are an outrage, they will be counter-productive and continue the dehumanisation of people of African heritage.“It is difficult to see what Serie A was thinking, who did they consult?“It is time for the progressive clubs in the league to make their voice heard.”Former England striker Stan Collymore tweeted: “Fantastic to see Serie A anti racism campaign posters (yes, it’s really real).“Maybe get the mascots to Black up as a finishing touch.”Fugazzotto said he “decided to portray monkeys to talk about racism because they are the metaphor for human beings”.He added on the Serie A website: “I’ve always been painting monkeys for five to six years, so I thought I’d make this work to teach that we’re all apes.“I made the western monkey with blue and white eyes, the Asian monkey with almond-shaped eyes and the black monkey positioned in the centre, where everything comes from.“The monkey becomes the spark to teach everyone that there is no difference, there is no man or monkey, we are all alike. If anything we are all monkeys.”Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo called football “an extraordinary tool for conveying positive messages, fair play and tolerance” and said Fugazzotto’s paintings “fully reflect these values”.He said: “We know that racism is an endemic and very complex problem, which we will tackle on three different levels – the cultural one, through works like that of Simone, the sporting one, with a series of initiatives together with clubs and players, and the repressive one, thanks to the collaboration with the police.“By acting simultaneously on these three different levels we are sure that we will be able to win the most important game against the evil that ruins the most beautiful sport in the world.”Serie A club Roma later tweeted a statement expressing surprise at the league’s approach.“AS Roma was very surprised to see what appears to be an anti-racist campaign from Serie A featuring painted monkeys on social media today,” read the tweet.“We understand the league wants to tackle racism but we don’t believe this is the right way to do it.”Two weeks ago Italian paper Corrierre dello Sport was criticised for using the headline ‘Black Friday’ on its front page alongside images of Inter striker Romelu Lukaku and Roma’s Chris Smalling.The former Manchester United team-mates were due to go up against each other for their new clubs the following day.The article attempted to highlight the league’s racism problem, but the newspaper was accused of fuelling racism by anti-discrimination campaigners.Lukaku himself and Brescia forward Mario Balotelli are among those to make allegations of being racially abused by supporters during games this season.Last month all 20 clubs in Italy’s top tier signed an open letter which called on “all those who love Italian football” to unite to try to eradicate the “serious problem”.
The newly elected chairmen of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Claims, Petitions, and Human Rights, Senator Varney Gboto Nabie Sherman, has assured Senators of the 4th Session that he will exert himself and apply resources to ensure that his committee is vibrant, resourceful, dedicated and committed.The Grand Cape Mount County Senator was speaking yesterday minutes before Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence cast the white ballot for Sherman as the sole candidate for that position.“I am very pleased that I was the only candidate for this position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee Sen. Sherman said and disclosed that he became a lawyer 35 years ago in February, 1980.Senator Sherman, who is also chairman of the ruling Unity Party declared that:“When I read through the duties and responsibilities of the office of the Judiciary Committee, I believe that I am eminently qualified to conduct those affairs to your satisfaction, and to the honor and pride of our country.”The Grand Cape Mount County lawmaker who is one of the few successful corporate lawyers in Liberia, concluded: “I promise you as I have always done, that I will exert myself, apply my resources and ensure that this committee will be vibrant, resourceful, dedicated, committed and you too will be proud of it.”Also elected by white ballot cast by Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee, was Lofa County Senator Steven H.J. Zargo who now chairs the committee on Defense, Intelligence, Security & Veteran Affairs.The elections of the two Senators completed the process of electing chairs of the Statutory (Leadership) committees that serve as the nucleus of functions within the Senate; the process of appointing co-chairs and members of leadership committees will however continue.President Pro Tempore Armah Jallah is expected to conclude appointments of heads and members of standing committees.Meanwhile, the issue of the Western and Northern belts of the country controlling all the leadership committees still seems to be a topical concern within the Senate corridors, with some Senators arguing illogical to allow two Senators from the same county to serve on leadership committees.Other Senators brushed aside the debate, saying the election guidelines approved by plenary for the electoral process for the Pro Tempore position and statutory committees did not see anything wrong with that outcome since the two senators holding those positions were elected.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The threats and impacts of climate change on human existence are dire and have been increasing exponentially. At the United Nations Conference on the Environment convened in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden, the world first recognized the deleterious effects of changes in our global climate system and more interestingly, the massive changes mother earth would undergo if this menace continues unabated. At the conclusion of the conference on the environment, world leaders made bold, sustainable, and collective decisions to amass and harness resources at their deposal for climate change mitigation and adaptation programs.Two decades later, the world met again in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Earth Summit to reinforce some of the agreements and commitments that were made to battle changes in climate systems as well as addressed the anthropogenic (human induced) causes of climate change. As the evidence of climate variation became prevalent, the world could no longer wait and therefore decided to establish the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entrusted with the principal responsibility of working with all countries to address this global threat. Typically, the convention was established to bring together governments and 193 parties have since signed it. It is Interesting to note two other conventions germinated from the Rio Summit, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD). While the UNFCC convention seeks to solicit bold and generic commitments from governments (which is political), it proposes, on the other hand, binding detailed agreements from governments though a protocol. The first Legally Binding Protocol from the convention on climate change (UNFCCC) was the Kyoto Protocol which describes governments contributions in terms of emission reductions to meet the target level of Green House Gases (GHG) in the atmosphere required to stabilize global mean temperature below 2 Degree Celsius. Another way to achieve this was by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents to 350 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere as the most dangerous GHG on our climate defense system.Since its establishment, the UNFCC has been holding annual meetings or Conference of the Parties (COPs) to discuss and share experiences on the progress and challenges facing the world. This year, in Paris, the UNFCCC will host its 21st COP. At COP 3 (1997) in Kyoto, Japan, the world made tremendous progress in developing and agreeing to the first legally binding treaty on climate change to reduce GHG emissions. Enthusiasm flared around the globe especially from climate change proponents that mankind has agreed to take bold and strategic actions to safe the planet from another human “induced” disaster. As parties offered their reduction commitments, the UNFCCC requested obviously, ratification of the protocol. Over 83 parties have signed the protocols but surprisingly, the US senate refused to budge and sign even though few years later it (US) claims to have contributed significantly in emissions reducing targets far above some of its counterparts that ratified the protocol. Canada later left the protocol in 2012.As Kyoto phases out, the UNFCCC, failing to curb human-induced warming to below 2º Celsius (3.6º Fahrenheit), calls for a more ambitious and legally enforceable global agreement which sets our planet in line with this threshold. Sadly, current trajectory implies warming far beyond this limit, possibly 4-6º Celsius by the end of this century. The year 2014 was the hottest on instrument record, and we in Liberia can attest to the anecdotal evidence of extreme heat even approaching the raining season. Other governments are arguing that the reduction target required to achieve the below 2 degrees C mark is infeasible and economically impossible.New mechanisms such as carbon offsetting and sequestration, including reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of carbon stock (REDD+) has been introduced over the last decade since the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol. Some of these measures compliment the protocol while others are means to improve on the protocol for a new climate regime.The road to a new legally binding agreement to replace Kyoto has been long, disputable, politically manipulative and scientifically discouraging. Despite all of these, Paris offers a glimpse of faint hope for a new agreement based on the unbiased science of climate change, available finance, and unstinted commitment from industrialized countries.Liberia’s Contributions to the Global Fight Against Climate ChangeTypically, least developed countries (LDCs) offer little in terms of finance and technology to address climate change. As a matter of fact, LDCs suffer the brunt of climate change impacts while their contributions are miniscule. Liberia has made tremendous progress in addressing climate change despite its minimum contribution to the problem. The remaining 43% of the Upper Guinea Forest presents a unique opportunity to sequester trillions of tons of carbon while concomitantly reducing and avoiding emissions from deforestation and degradation. A round up of Liberia’s key contribution includes the establishment of the National Climate Change Steering Committee (NCCSC) and its Secretariat (NCCS), which was originally hosted in the Office of the President of Liberia thus sending a strong message that the government was considering climate change as a critical national development challenge requiring high level support. Before that, the Government of Liberia, through the EPA and its key partners launched the development of the country’s strategy for adapting to climate change. The National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) created in 2008, was in fulfillment of the UNFCCC requirements and articulates the government’s visions and strategy for improving its adaptive capacity to climate change. Initial funding for the NAPA was secured to enhance resilience in Agriculture, strengthen coastal defense in selected coastline cities, etc.As mentioned supra, Liberia’s forest provides a humongous opportunity to be a key global contributor to climate change mitigation program. Taking lead on this, the government, with support from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) developed a 3-year plan to test the country’s readiness for REDD+ an acronym for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. This program calls for the forest to remain standing while harnessing its ability to sequester carbon. As logging will be minimally conducted on a sustainable scale, the aim here is to increase the country’s capacity to capture trillions of tons of carbon in the atmosphere while receiving incentives for the services including financing, protection of key biodiversity, and promotion of alternative livelihood for fringe forest community dwellers. The Norwegian government has committed US$150 million (One Hundred and Fifty Million United States Dollars for REDD+ related programs in Liberia while the FCPF initial US$3 million (Three Million United States Dollars support to test REDD+ in Liberia has been reinforced with additional funding.In 2012, Liberia was required through a global effort to report on its emission level under a system called “National Communication.” To date the country has submitted its first national communication and is preparing for its 2nd national communication. This document expresses the country’s emission profile from all sectors and helps to better inform global actions about Liberia’s contribution to the total GHG emission. On top of that, the government is also currently developing its climate change strategy and policy and anticipates a draft or finished product before the UNFCCC meeting at the end of the year.As the World braces itself for a global treaty this year in Paris, the UNFCCC has introduced a new concept out of the latest COP20 (in Peru) called the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This initiative seeks to engender a comprehensive list of emission reduction commitments from all governments and parties to the convention which could form the basis for negotiating a new treaty. Industrialized countries like the US and the European Union have submitted their INDCs along with other LDCs. The Government of Liberia team is currently assessing the different emissions from all sectors and weighing its options on what level of commitment can be offered towards this fight. This INDC should not be mistaken for the amount of carbon that can be captured under the REDD+ program.ChallengesLiberia faces an enormous challenge to build the required institutions and systems for carbon rights, including benefit-sharing mechanism, providing equity distribution to forest communities, access to financing, and availability of cutting-edged technology. Parallel to these are the lack of political support and national buy-in for climate change. Some may argue that political support must be eked out of public officials by technicians and climate change activists. Over the years, honestly, these proponents have tried to creat a humongous awareness on climate change and gradually we may just be getting there. Below this list of constraints/challenges is the fact that Liberia is always outnumbered by its counterparts at the COP negotiations. While countries like Nigeria, for instance, are taking over 25 delegates for negotiation, Liberia is represented by 4-5 persons. It becomes increasingly daunting to manage the simultaneous meetings that occur during the course of the COP. In spite of all these, Liberia is making all strides to contribute and participate in the fight against climate change.Urias S. Goll is a trained environmental economist and a blogger and can be reached for comments via email firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
African diplomats accredited near Monrovia are recommending to governments to initiate programs that will alleviate poverty, ethnic and religious marginalization and ignorance to reduce the threat of terrorism on the continent.The diplomats believe that the absence of development and presence of vices are seriously enhancing terroristic acts and threats across the continent.In separate presentations at a special one-day forum organized by the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 6, 2016, the diplomats, including Guinean Ambassador Abdoulaye Dore; Cameroonian Ambassador, Beng’ Yela Augustine Gang; Ghanaian Ambassador, Kodjo Asimeng Wade; Sierra Leonean Ambassador, Brima Acha Kamara; Cote d’Ivoire Ambassador Feni Kouakou (represented by a proxy); ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo; Charge d’Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammed Tahir; and Liberia National Security Agency Policy Adviser, Edward Sharpe, alluded to lack of development, marginalization, social and ethnic stereotypes, youth unemployment and political exclusion as some basic influencing factors leading to acts of terrorism. The African diplomats whose views were nearly identical, told students and invited guests at the forum that West Africa is engulfed in threats of terrorism as attacks in Grad Bassam, Ivory Coast; Bamako, Mali; and Ouagadougou, Burna Faso can clearly manifest.In wake of the threat, the diplomats alluded that “Terrorism cannot be eradicated, but minimized, and minimizing it requires collaboration in intelligence sharing, training of security, community policing and youth education and employment.”Guinean Ambassador Abdoulaye Dore, after emphasizing that violence was a form of terrorism, went on to say, “Development in communication has increased, and people can quickly connect nowadays than before. Moreover, population has increased and a few people are becoming wealthy while the majority of the population cannot afford. Such vulnerable people are the ones terrorists want to use.”He said terrorism cannot wholly be associated with religion; that economic, social and ethnic terrorism exists now, noting that government needs to take the necessary steps to govern well so their citizens can feel the impact of equality.Ambassador Gang of Cameroon observed that West Africa has connections with other regions of Africa that have their own groupings, and by this, ECOWAS should beware that there’s a need to liaise with those external groupings in tackling the terrorism.He said maritime piracy is also a threat; that West African countries should have interconnectivity in maritime affairs in the region. “There is a need for collaboration,” Amb. Gang said, “but with urgency. Involvement of the local population, education for young people, employment, improvements in infrastructure and agriculture and inter and intra state collaborations are essential to fighting terrorism.”For Ambassador Wade of Ghana, he said though securities are improved in France and other countries in Europe, yet terrorist attacks go on there.He warned West Africans that these attacks in advanced countries are meant to divert attention so that others not affected could remain complacent to be taken by surprise.He, too, identified causes of terrorism to include accumulation of internal grievances, social inequality, political marginalization and unemployment. He added that social media was aiding connections among terrorists.He recommended promotion of human rights, good governance and rule of law, development, united population and vigilance as tools to prevent terrorist attacks.Ambassador Kamara of Sierra Leone observed that despite the availability of advanced communications equipment, intelligence sharing remains challenging among West African countries.He therefore called for collaborations in intelligence sharing, training of Special Forces and cooperation between police and communities to counter terrorist threats and attacks.Ivorian Chargé d’Affairs, Gbègbè Lanta whose country is trying to recover from the terrorist attack on a resort in Grand Bassam, said they are on the alert, and have placed security personnel at all strategic locations in cities.In addition to alleviation of poverty and addressing needs for employment and social inclusiveness, he also recommended that security should comprise men and women of integrity.ECOWAS Special Representative Tunde Ajisomo said the regional grouping is concerned about the threat of terrorism and had convened several meetings on the issue.“West Africa has waited too late to prepare for terrorism,” he said. “How prepared are West African countries, especially Liberia to combat terrorism? We need collaboration with the Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons to control the uncontrollable spread of arms and light weapons because when these weapons are spread, terrorists use them at anytime, anywhere.”He praised France and China for assisting Africa with manpower and direct interventions in bringing situations under control in areas that had received attacks from terrorists.Mr. Edward Sharpe, Policy Adviser at the National Security Agency (NSA), said government has held meetings with key stakeholders on security matters in the wake of UNMIL’s drawdown plan, and has deployed police officers at various border points around the country.Furthermore, he said the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) is to help in the process with its customs officers in searching people coming in and going out, and installing CCTV at strategic points of entry, including the Roberts International Airport (RIA).In an opening statement earlier, the Director General of the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute, Dr. Augustine Konneh, attributed the cause of terrorism to deprivation of people, extreme poverty and marginalization on the basis of religion and ethnicity.Dr. Konneh said “Terrorism has engulfed the world, with West Africa being the host of Boko Haram; East Africa, Al-Shabab; and the Islamic State militants disturbing the entire world.”Recalling attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, he said people have to collectively join to find a solution to the global threat, noting, “It is why the Foreign Service Institute organized the program under the theme: ‘The Threat of Terrorism in the West African Region and the Need for Greater Collaboration among West African Nations’ to discuss the issues and identify solutions.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
0Shares0000MADRID, September 17- Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hailed the reaction of his side to their disappointing start in La Liga as they thrashed Basel 5-1 in the opening game of their Champions League defence on Tuesday.A 2-1 derby defeat to Atletico Madrid at the weekend on the back of a 4-2 loss to Real Sociedad had led to Los Blancos being booed by their own supporters less than four months after lifting the European Cup for a record 10th time. However, their crisis of confidence was eased as goals from Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and an own goal from Marek Suchy handed them a comprehensive win to start their European campaign.“The reaction of the team today was good,” said Real boss Carlo Ancelotti.“We pressed very well in the first half and created a lot of chances. Not everything is resolved just yet, but I liked the reaction of the team.”Ancelotti insisted he hadn’t been struck by the backlash to Real’s recent form from the fans and media in the Spanish capital despite his success during his first season in charge.And he is hoping for more of the intensity he saw from his side after calling on them to show a consistent performance for 90 minutes before kick-off.“When you lose a derby it is normal to get nervous. It is not usual to lose two consecutive games at Real Madrid and that is a good thing,” he added.“The game was easy because we started very well the first 30 minutes with pressure, velocity; we scored lots of goals and then we could control the game.”– ‘Respect’ –Next up for Real in Europe is a visit into the unknown as Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad host their first ever Champions League match at home to the most successful club in the competition’s history.Ludogorets were only denied a sensational point away at Liverpool by an injury-time Steven Gerrard penalty on Tuesday and Ancelotti insisted Real won’t be complacent as they look to solidify their place at the top of Group B.“We will go there with the same intent as we always do and that is to win the game. It is important to start well, but we will have respect for them.”Basel coach Paulo Sousa meanwhile was left to rue his side’s naivety in defence despite showing flashes of their quality on the ball.“We created chances, we were brave to have the ball and didn’t just look to defend,” said the Portuguese.“In certain moments we were too naive, but in other moments we showed good quality and personality.”However, he believes the passing style he has brought to the club since taking over in the summer will lead to better results as the group develops.“The players are completely convinced. This is the way if we are going to take a step forward in this type of competitions.“We need to face the difficulties but playing the same way, like we played today at the Bernabeu, dominating the game but for a longer period of the game,” added Sousa, whose side host Liverpool on October 1.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
After O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and now Paris Hilton, I strongly suggest that the Los Angeles city and county charters be changed to read: “Celebrities are entitled to get-out-of-jail cards at any time.” In this way, the city and county can save money on costly trials. – Jean Strauber Encino A mockery of justice After only three days actually in jail, Paris Hilton is being released to home monitoring due to “medical conditions.” Well, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department has long had a reputation as being biased toward the rich and elite of Los Angeles, and I see things certainly haven’t changed under Sheriff Lee Baca’s administration. Was the jail ward at the Medical Center too full? The noise too loud there for Hilton’s delicate sensibilities? Not enough makeup mirrors? Now she has to go through the torment of home monitoring, the poor baby. Sheriff Baca, you make a mockery of the idea of law enforcement and have proven yourself to be nothing more than one more political hack in an unfortunately long line. – Brian Baker Saugus Special treatment The real impact of the “reassignment” of Paris Hilton from jail to home is not that Hilton will not receive the punishment she deserves, but that her special treatment justifies the suspicion, cynicism and even contempt with which a large and growing portion of our society views the justice system. – Marshall Barth Encino Early jail exit I think the reason why the media are having such a fit about Paris Hilton’s getting a get-out-of-jail pass is that they are ticked off because they will no longer have the opportunity to be paid $500,000 for getting a picture of her behind bars. This picture would not only have made them lots of money, but it could then be doctored up to look like the description of jail-cell bars that Sarah Silverman so crudely described at the MTV Awards last week. It would subsequently show up in every magazine and newspaper and on the Internet and confirm how crude, vulgar, disrespectful and low-brow certain elements of the American media have become. – Marilyn N. Hankins Westlake Village Real justice How about some real “celebrity justice?” Let’s sentence Paris to a lifetime without the paparazzi. – Kathie Marshall Northridge Why we should care Why should we care about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol? Because they’re teaching our children that it’s OK to take illegal drugs, endanger lives by drinking and driving, and flout the law. I’d love to see some true acts of character from these troubled celebrities. For instance, they could care for many hungry, homeless people and abandoned children on a fraction of their incomes. This is a much better way to get attention and find happiness than their current methods. How about it, ladies? – Dianne Nitzahn Tarzana Keeping it clean Re “Exposed: Porn in the Valley” (June 6): Perhaps you’d consider wrapping your newspaper in brown paper when you are including the acceptance of porn in your double-page articles. You already show so many sleazily dressed actresses, nearly naked “medical” ads and come-ons for porno videos that you are now in the class of Playboy when it first was sold under the counter wrapped in brown paper. I have to run out early and peruse the Daily News to see if the kids in my house really need exposure to your newspaper, which seems more interested in titillating its staff than keeping it clean for the subscribers. – Paul Vaughn Van Nuys Class act I am an American of Hispanic descent, and I was disgusted by the rude and insulting behavior of the Mexican audience toward the American entry in the Miss Universe contest. I do not care about the politics involved. This is an innocent girl representing her country in an international beauty contest. I am sure that in the good ol’ USA, we would treat any contestant in any beauty pageant, including the Mexican entry, with respect, admiration and class because this is the kind of people we are. Congratulations, Miss Riyo Mori, you deserved the crown, and also congratulations to Miss Rachel Smith, you were a class act, and you are also a winner. – Hector Salvador Northridge Who is in charge? If you drive illegally, they will take your driver’s license away. If you are here illegally, they want to give you one. – Beverly Triggs Granada Hills Ulterior motives Re Senate seeking ballot measure on Iraq war end” (June 7): This is another movement by the Democrats to make it look like they are doing “something” about Iraq. If the California Senate wants to take such a stand and has signed petitions, and U.S. Sens. Feinstein and Boxer have voted in Congress, then the message is sent. Or are they just trying to get some votes in local elections? – Louise Clarke Stone Sunland Salton Sea solution Re “Lawmakers to weigh Salton Sea plan” (May 26): In an article about Salton Sea many years ago, a practical solution was proposed to take the intuitively silly approach of dumping Pacific Ocean water into the Salton Sea at one end and removing the saturated Salton Sea water at the other and dumping it into the Pacific Ocean for dispersal. Solar and wind could supply the power for this switching operation, and the gradual reduction of the Salton Sea salinity could be accomplished without robbing the local area of needed fresh water. A few years later, the Salton Sea would be close to the ocean in salinity, and fish and wildlife could and would return to the Salton Sea. Wind farms and solar disks would not be too intrusive out in the sparse boonies. After you finish laughing, think about its logic. – Alex Sheppard Reseda Democratic debate? First Edwards, then Clinton and Obama, and now Richardson and Dodd have decided to drop out of the Democratic debate on Fox News. The debate is co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, and Fox was the only network to submit a proposal to host it. How in the world are any of these candidates going to have the spine to stand up to Third World leaders if they’re afraid to debate on Fox? They contend Fox is biased against Democrats. Big deal. On May 3 all the Republican candidates debated on MSNBC, which shows bias against Republicans. But the Democrats “will” debate later on CNN, where they will receive the softball questions they like and expect from the networks. – Larry Wolfe Tujunga Fair insurance rates In her May 22 article, “Proposition 103 finally near to the end of a long road,” columnist Sue Doyle failed to disclose an important fact about the proposition. Proposition 103 requires that rates be fair and not arbitrary. Data show that rates, to be fair, must be based largely on where cars are driven. It is a fact that the risk of having an accident is much higher in congested areas than in rural areas even though drivers travel the same distances. The regulations your columnist touts violate Proposition 103’s “fairness” provisions. That’s unfair to consumers and bad public policy. – Sam Sorich President Association of California Insurance Companies160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Although McGinty calls himself “not really political,” he opposes the oil profiteering he believes takes place in Iraq. “The people that are behind this are gaining control and prospering, climbing the ladder and kicking down everyone else,” said McGinty, who said he is a registered Democrat. “The general consensus of the world understands this is for greed.” As the troops continue to reach their destination – the White House mailroom – McGinty says he thinks they will accumulate to the point where government officials will take notice. Several calls to the media relations department at the White House seeking comment last week were not returned. The toy soldiers mark McGinty’s first foray into political art, though art has long been at the center of his life. He says he first fell into designing environmental installations before opening the salon-style Gallery at the End of the World five years ago. Every two months, local artists exhibit their work during four-day- long openings that McGinty says more than 1,000 people attend. As for the next step for March of the Toy Soldiers, McGinty says he is just waiting to “see where it goes.” He says he is hopeful that as more soldiers are mailed in, his message will reach Bush, as well as into the future. “Maybe there will be a pile of these sitting there in his museum,” he said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “These are the only soldiers that should be in bags,” said McGinty, 43, of the individually wrapped toys, adding that under his scheme the president can now “play with soldiers he can’t kill.” Since assembling the toys in a soldier-shaped, mesh-wire statue two weeks ago outside Gallery at the End of the World – the Lake Avenue art gallery he has run since 2002 – McGinty said an estimated 200 figures have been picked up. The mass-mailing project he calls March of the Toy Soldiers aims to channel anti-war sentiment into a tangible, and perhaps more effective, form of protest, he said. “You see the same people standing on the corner every day,” he said of demonstrators. “It doesn’t satisfy my frustrations.” Inspiration struck in February when McGinty was sitting at his kitchen table, turning over vintage toy soldiers a friend had bought. He said at first he wanted to send them to his nephew, but then realized he “needed to send them to George W. Bush” instead. McGintysaid he plunked down $400 for 500 soldiers soon thereafter. He shot a video of himself explaining the project, which was uploaded to YouTube. The clip and a MySpace page where it appears (http://myspace.com/marchofthetoysoldiers) make the Internet his main means of publicity. • Toy soldiers to President Bush ALTADENA – Troops being sent to the White House can’t salute, fire their guns or get injured. In fact, they can’t even move on their own. That’s because they are 7 inches tall and plastic. As a means of protesting the war in Iraq, local artist and gallery owner Ben McGinty is distributing hundreds of toy soldiers to be mailed to President Bush.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In races for the Legislature and Congress, “there’s no competition,” the governor lamented. He noted that in hundreds of races over three election cycles, only four of those seats changed party. “By reforming the way the districts are drawn and by taking it out of the politicians’ hands, we can ensure that our elected officials are always working hard and are competing for your vote,” Schwarzenegger said. The actor-governor has talked about the idea for years as part of his plans to upend the political status quo in Sacramento – a goal that has largely eluded him. Schwarzenegger pushed a similar proposal in 2005, which was snubbed by voters along with a slate of other initiatives to curb spending and public union power. His idea is to give an independent commission the authority to draw district boundaries. Currently, legislators slice up districts for themselves and Congress every 10 years to reflect population shifts, a practice often criticized as a blatant conflict of interest. Many California districts are heavily skewed to favor candidates from one party, turning them into fortresses of incumbency. Several attempts to take that role away from lawmakers over the years have been rejected by voters, including Schwarzenegger’s 2005 proposal. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Thursday that he would try for a second time to reform rules at the heart of how California selects legislators and members of Congress – a system he says has all the fairness of loaded dice. Flanked by former Govs. Gray Davis, a Democrat, and Pete Wilson, a Republican, Schwarzenegger said he wants voters next year to consider changing the way the state carves out districts for legislators and members of Congress. He alluded to the possibility of calling a special session of the Legislature to take on the issue. He said he was prepared to make trade-offs to get what he wants in negotiations in Sacramento, and he didn’t rule out going to the ballot on his own if the Legislature doesn’t act. He wants the proposal on the Feb. 5 ballot, the same date the state holds its presidential primary.
Maternal deaths were a much more common tragedy long ago. Nearly one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother’s death as recently as 90 years ago. But the fact that maternal deaths are rising at all these days is shocking, said Tim Davis, a Virginia man whose wife Elizabeth died after childbirth in 2000. “The hardest thing to understand is how in this day and age, in a modern hospital with doctors and nurses, that somebody can just die like that,” he said. Some health statisticians note the total number of maternal deaths – still fewer than 600 each year – is small. It’s so small that 50 to 100 extra deaths could raise the rate, said Donna Hoyert, a health scientist with the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate is the number of deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2003, there was a change in death certificate questions in the nation’s most populous state, California, as well as Montana and Idaho. That may have resulted in more deaths being linked to childbirth – enough to push up the 2003 rate, Hoyert said. Some researchers point to the rising C-section rate, now 29 percent of all births – far higher than what public health experts say is appropriate. Like other surgeries, Caesareans come with risks related to anesthesia, infections and blood clots. “There’s an inherent risk to C-sections,” said Dr. Elliott Main, who co-chairs a panel reviewing obstetrics care in California. “As you do thousands and thousands of them, there’s going to be a price.” Excessive bleeding is one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related death, and women with several previous C-sections are at especially high risk, according to a review of maternal deaths in New York. Blood vessel blockages and infections are among the other leading causes. Experts also say obesity may be a factor. Heavier women are more prone to diabetes and other complications, and they may have excess tissue and larger babies that make a vaginal delivery more problematic. That can lead to more C-sections. “It becomes this sort of snowball effect,” said King, who is now medical director of maternal-fetal medicine at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Some number crunchers note that a change in how such deaths are reported also may be a factor. “Those of us who look at this a lot say it’s probably a little bit of both,” said Dr. Jeffrey King, an obstetrician who led a recent New York state review of maternal deaths. The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004, according to statistics released this week by the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate was 12 per 100,000 live births in 2003 – the first time the maternal death rate rose above 10 since 1977. To be sure, death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the United States. The death of infants is much more common – the nation’s infant mortality rate was 679 per 100,000 live births in 2004. REPORT: Experts say C-sections and obesity may play a role in the increase. By Mike Stobbe THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ATLANTA – U.S. women are dying from childbirth at the highest rate in decades, new government figures show. Though the risk of death is very small, experts believe increasing maternal obesity and a jump in Caesarean sections are partly to blame.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich insists the Red Devils should forget about trying to sign Jasper Cillessen and focus on getting Hugo Lloris.The Old Trafford giants are being linked with a move for the Ajax stopper as Louis van Gaal continues to prepare for the possible departure of David De Gea to Real Madrid.But Bosnich insists Tottenham star Lloris would be a much better bet.The Australian told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast: “I’m not 100 per cent certain about him [Cillessen]. I think he did OK at the World Cup [for Holland], but he’s not one who stands out in terms of being dominant.“The English Premier League is definitely the most physically demanding in the world and it takes foreign players quite a while to adjust to that.“We saw during [David] De Gea’s first season, it was a bit of a struggle. Lloris knows the Premier League inside out and he’s had success.”