(LA Weekly) Minorities Are Actually Losing Ground in Hollywood, Report Finds

File photo by mark sebastian/Flickr

File photo by mark sebastian/Flickr

Latinos are part of the largest racial or ethnic minority in the United States, and they recently surpassed whites as the numerically dominant demographic group in California.

The country is nearly 40 percent minority, and experts believe people of color could eclipse the white majority by 2043.

Diversity is everywhere you look these days — on television commercials, in pop music, in sports, in public universities. But Hollywood, an industry that calls a 73 percent minority county its home, is actually losing ground when it comes to hiring people of color.

So says the 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Researchers, led by Bunche Center director Darnell M. Hunt, looked at the top-grossing 200 films in 2014 as well as at 1,146 television shows, including online programs, from the 2013-14 season.

“Minorities lost ground in six of the 11 arenas examined and merely held their ground in the other four,” the report states.

This at a time when the Academy Awards is feeling pressure from minority groups — a protest led by Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to happen outside Sunday’s event — because only whites received acting nominations for the second year in a row.

Here are some of the UCLA study’s highlights:

-In film, minorities got 12.9 percent of lead rules, down from 16.7 percent in 2013, UCLA says.

-Minorities got 12.9 percent of the film director gigs, down from 17.8 percent in 2013, the report says.

-For women directors, that figure was women just 4.3 percent, down from 6.3 percent in 2013.

-Minorities were writers on 8 percent of the films examined, down from 11.8 percent in 2013.

-Women got writing credits in 9.2 percent of the films, down from 12.9 percent in 2013.

-Women got 35.8 percent of the lead roles in broadcast scripted shows, down from 48.6 percent in the 2012-13 season.

-Minorities got 15.9 percent of the lead roles on cable shows, down from 16.8 percent in 2012-13.

-Minorities were credited as show creators in 3.3 percent of the broadcast scripted shows examined, which is down from 5.9 percent in 2012-13.

And so on.

One hopeful highlight was in broadcast scripted TV, where minorities got 8.1 percent of the roles, according to the study. That’s up from 6.5 percent in 2012-13.

But still, the report says, “Minorities remain seriously underrepresented in this broadcast scripted arena.”

The study also reiterated that diverse productions — those with casts that were greater than 30 percent nonwhite — made more money for the industry.

“Films with relatively diverse casts enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment,” the study says. “Minorities accounted for the majority of ticket sales for four of the top 10 films in 2014.”

It also found that broadcast TV shows with casts that were 31 to 40 percent nonwhite received the most mentions on Twitter.

“What we’ve found for three years running now is that audiences prefer content that looks like America,” Hunt said.

Unfortunately, it looks like Hollywood still isn’t getting the message.

The article was published in LA Weekly. 

(Vox) 3 young Muslim Americans killed in mysterious ‘execution-style’ murders

A broadcast from the local Fort Wayne ABC affiliate, ABC21, announcing the murders ABC21

Early on Wednesday evening, as the sun began to set and the air cooled to just below freezing, police arrived at a unremarkable white home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a few blocks from the campus of Indiana Tech. We do not yet know who called them or what they expected. Inside, they found the bodies of three young men, shot multiple times in what police, on Friday, called “execution style” murders.

The young men were members of a predominantly Muslim diaspora community whose roots are in Africa’s eastern Sahel region. They were Muhannad Tairab, age 17, Adam Mekki, age 20, and Mohamedtaha Omar, age 23. Police have identified no motive in the killing, which appears to be something of a mystery.

The modest white building had apparently become something of a “party house” used by local youths, but police said there was no known connection to gangs or any other violent organization.

Were they killed for their religion? A police spokesperson cautioned against jumping to conclusions, stating that, as of yet, they had “no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime, or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever.”

Indeed it may turn out that there was some unseen force at play here: gang violence, a robbery gone awry, some personal dispute. Nonetheless, it seems impossible, at this point, to completely rule out the possibility that this could be exactly what Muslim American rights group already fear it may be: an expression of America’s increasingly violent Islamophobia problem.

In recent months, there has been an alarming trend of violence and violent threats against America’s community of roughly two to three million Muslim citizens.

There were the murders, almost exactly one year ago, of three Chapel Hill students, by a local man who’d expressed a paranoid hatred of religion. Later that spring, the FBI arrested the leader of a far-right militia that was planning to massacre a predominantly Muslim neighborhood in upstate New York. Another militia, in Texas, has sent its assault rifle-wielding members to stalk a local mosque and its adherents, later publishing the home addresses of “Muslims and Muslim sympathizers.”

More isolated acts of violence — what we might call “lone wolf” attacks had the religions of the shooter and victim been reversed — have been so frequent they are difficult to track.

On Thanksgiving, a Pittsburgh man accosted his Moroccan cab driver with questions about ISIS, then shot him. Two weeks later, a Michigan man called an Indian store clerk a “terrorist” before shooting him in the face. On Christmas eve in Texas, a local man charged into a Muslim-owned tire shop and shouted “Muslim!” as he opened fire, killing one and critically wounding another.

Less than a week ago, a Missouri man charged at a Muslim American family with a handgun, telling them, “This state allows you to carry a gun and shoot you. … You, your wife, and your kids have to die.” The family was able to flee.

This has not come out of nowhere. Islamophobia has entered mainstream American discourse in the past year, receiving substantial airtime on cable news networks. CNN anchors have called Muslims “unusually violent” and “unusually barbaric”; Fox News has called Islam a “destructive force” and suggested that Muslim American communities are running secret terrorist “training camps.” Presidential candidates from Donald Trump to Marco Rubio continue to dabble in overt Islamophobia.

It is important to caution against assuming that whatever happened this week in Fort Wayne, whatever chain of events led to the mysterious “execution-style” murders of three young men, must necessarily be part of the rising wave of Islamophobic violence in America. Police are presumably cautioning against that conclusion for a reason, and it may well turn out that their deaths are entirely unrelated.

Still, it is difficult to ignore that three apparently Muslim young men have been murdered, for no immediately obvious reason, just as indiscriminate violence against Muslim Americans is growing out of control.

It is thus concerning that these murders have received so little attention, if only for the possibility, however remote, that they could be part of this trend of religious violence against American citizens.

As a thought experiment, scroll back up to the top of this page and read back through, but this time imagine that the Muslim victims of violence, in every instance, were instead Christian. Imagine that the perpetrators had all been Muslim, and had targeted their victims explicitly because of their Christian faith.

Imagine that, rather than Donald Trump calling for banning Muslims from entering the US, it was Rep. Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, calling for banning Christians. Imagine that Rep. André Carson, who is also Muslim, complained bitterly when President Obama responded to anti-Christian violence by visiting a church, and that Carson further argued America should be willing toclose down churches and anywhere else dangerous Christians might congregate.

Now imagine, amid all this anti-Christian violence and anti-Christian hatred, as Christians were gunned down in the street for their religion and crowds of thousands gathered to cheer anti-Christian rhetoric, that three Christians youths turned up mysteriously executed a few blocks from Indiana Tech. Ask yourself whether it would be treated as major news, if only for the possibility of its connection to that wave of violence, or whether it would be largely ignored, as the murders of Tairab, Mekki, and Omar have been.

The article was published in Vox.

Top 10 Education Apps for Africa (IT News Africa)

Leading academics, CIOs, regulators, NGOs, service providers, and EduTech entrepreneurs will convene at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on the 17th of March 2016 for the upcoming 2016 Education Innovation Summit.

The Summit, which has been organised by IT News Africa and sponsored by Telkom, will see these leaders discuss vital topics around the impact of technology on education.

By Darryl Linington

Ahead of the summit, IT News Africa is highlighting some of the top education apps for Africa. The apps featured below offer users the opportunity to learn new languages, discover various facts about global history, as well as brush up on their math and science knowledge.

Top Education Apps for Africa.

Top Education Apps for Africa

1. Khan Academy (Free)
The Khan Academy application offers, according to the developers, over 10 000 educational videos that relate to subjects such as math, science, economics, history, and a variety of other subjects.

To add to the features, the Khan Academy app allows students to keep learning, while offline, by downloading the required content to their mobile device.

The app also allows students to learn using videos and in-depth articles in math (arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, linear algebra), science (biology, chemistry, physics), economics, and even the humanities with tutorials on art history, civics, finance, and more.

It also allows students to discover how the Krebs cycle works as well as learn about the fundamentals of music notation.

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

2. Toca Lab (Paid for App)
For students aged 7 and up, Toca Lab Explores the colourful and electrifying world of science. The app introduces students to the Periodic Table and teaches them about 118 of its elements. However, the learning does not stop there. Toca Lab gives students the ability to use virtual lab equipment in order to conduct experiments.

Toca Lab is a place for playing, learning and having fun, and with it the developers have the hope that it will inspire kids to explore science.

Download on: Android Devices
Download on: Apple Devices

3. DuoLingo (Free)
African students who are looking to travel the world have the opportunity to learn English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish and Turkish with the DuoLingo app.

Practice speaking, reading, listening and writing. Play a game, answer questions and complete lessons to improve your vocabulary and grammar. Start with basic verbs, phrases, and sentences, and learn new words daily.

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

4. Math Expert (Free)
According to the Google Play Store, the Math Expert application has been downloaded over 1 million times. The app covers various topics such as basic arithmetic, area calculation, trigonometry, polynomal division and more.

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

5. WhizApp (Free)
The WhizApp application is another free education app that ranks high. The main subject that the app focuses on is mathematics. Essentially, the application will test a student’s response speed and memory power in a fun yet challenging manner.

According to the developers, Whizapp is a simple yet fun application that trains the brain via mental calculations, increasing response speed, concentration and memory power.

Download on Android Devices

6. Yoruba101 (Paid For APP)
The Yoruba101 application is a paid for app. The application offers students and adults the opportunity to learn about the language and the culture of the Yoruba people – who are located in Southwestern and North central Nigeria as well as Southern and Central Benin in West Africa.

The app has interactive lessons and games with performance trackers to monitor user progress. The app was designed and developed by Genii studios as part of its Asa apps series.

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

7. Complete Physics (Free)
The Complete Physics application offers students various tutorials when it comes to physics related formulas and practicals. The app also features a physics quiz and also includes a physics dictionary.

Complete Physics, according to the developers, covers the syllabus for exams like WAEC, NECO, JAMB, KCSE, Post JAMB and GCE.

The app also covers the following topics: Physics as a science, Kinematics, Fluid, Scalar and Vector, Force, Circular Motion, Energy, Momentum, Heat Energy and Thermodynamics, Optics, Waves and many more.

Download on Android Devices

8. Daily Art (Free)
Do you know why van Gogh cut off his ear? Or who is Vermeer’s girl with the pearl earring? With the Daily Art app art will no longer be a secret for you.

Daily Art, which is another free application, highlights an education field that is often neglected… Fine Art. The educational app showcases a new work of art each day. Each piece of art showcased comes with the name of the painting, date that is was released, and information relating to the painter.

Apart from daily showcases, the application also has an art archive. The art archive allows students to search through famous paintings, which include anything from the Eva Prima Pandora to the Elephant Hanno.

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

9. Ted Talks
Access riveting talks from some of the world’s most fascinating people — wherever you are. TED’s official Android app presents bold, new thought leadership from education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus, music legends and other remarkable minds.

The app allows students as well as business executives to find thousands of inspiring talks that cover topics surrounding from inspirational, creativity, motivation to human psychology. for those looking to positively affect your knowledge base… this is the app for you.

Some of the most popular talks highlighted on the app include:
– Celeste Headlee: 10 Ways to have a better conversation
– David Gruber: Glow-in-the-dark sharks and other stunning sea creatures
– Linda Liukas: A delightful way to teach kids about computers
– Bono: Three actions for Africa
– Sugata Mitra – The child-driven education

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

10. Today in History Calendar (Free)
If you are the type of student that wants to know what happened on this day in history… then this is the app for you. The app is packed full of interesting facts that relate to this day in history.

History buffs will get to learn about important events that took place on this day in history. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to learn about various events as well as deaths and births that occurred on each day.

Interesting facts provided by the app include:
1878 years ago: The roman emperor Hadrian adopts Antoninus Plus, effectively making him successor.

219 years ago: Colonel William Tate and his force of 1000-1500 soldiers surrender after the last invasion of Britain.

Download on Android Devices
Download on Apple Devices

Apart from the above mentioned Education Apps, IT News Africa also identified the Top 10 Healthcare Apps for Africa – which can be found by clicking here.

Read More at IT news Africa

(NYT) Simon & Schuster Creates Imprint for Muslim-Themed Children’s Books

As a young Pakistani-American Muslim girl growing up in Connecticut, Zareen Jaffery used to devour novels by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, hoping those stories would offer some clues for how to fit in.

“I remember looking at books to try to figure out, ‘What does it mean to be American? Am I doing this right?’” Ms. Jaffery said. “The truth is, I didn’t see myself reflected in books back then.”

Some 30 years later, Muslim characters remain scarce in mainstream children’s literature. But now Ms. Jaffery, an executive editor of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, is in a position to change that.

Ms. Jaffery is heading a new children’s imprint, Salaam Reads, dedicated to publishing books that feature Muslim characters and stories. The imprint, which Simon & Schuster announced this week, will release nine or more books a year, ranging from board books and picture books to middle grade and young adult titles.

The creation of a Muslim-themed children’s imprint is likely to further fuel the continuing discussion about diversity in children’s publishing. Salaam Reads is also arriving in the middle of a fractious and polarizing political debate about immigration and racial and religious profiling, when minority groups, and American Muslims in particular, feel they are being targeted.

Ms. Jaffery, 37, had long been bothered by the lack of Muslim characters in children’s literature. But the problem started to feel more acute about three years ago, when she began reading books with her young nieces and nephews. “It was hard not to notice that none of those books really reflected their experience,” she said.

She brought up the idea of seeking out books about Muslims with Justin Chanda, the publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Rather than just releasing a scattered selection of books, they decided to create a new imprint, and chose the name Salaam, which means peace in Arabic. The books won’t emphasize theology or Islamic doctrine, Mr. Chanda said, but will highlight the experience of being Muslim through their characters and plots.

“We have a chance to provide people with a more nuanced and, in my estimation, a more honest portrayal of the lives of everyday Muslims,” Ms. Jaffery said.

So far, Salaam Reads has acquired four books that will come out in 2017, including “Salam Alaikum,” a picture book based on a song by the British teen pop singer Harris J. Others planned for release next year are “Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin,” a picture book about four kindergarten friends who learn about one another’s holiday traditions; “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” by Karuna Riazi, about a 12-year-old Bangladeshi-American who sets out to save her brother from a supernatural board game, and “Yo Soy Muslim,” a picture book by the poet Mark Gonzales.

Mr. Gonzales, an alumnus of HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” who converted to Islam, said he was immediately game when Ms. Jaffery recruited him to write a book for the imprint.

“As a person who was born as the child of Mexican and French immigrants, I grew up being invisible to society, and if not invisible, demonized,” said Mr. Gonzales. “It was important to me, thinking about what it would mean for every child to have a book when they’re growing up that they can see themselves in.”

The article was published in the New York Times.


(Yahoo! News) Comoros VP wins first round of presidential vote

Mohamed Ali Soilihi votes at a polling station in Mbeni on January 25, 2015 during legislative elections (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

Mohamed Ali Soilihi votes at a polling station in Mbeni on January 25, 2015 during legislative elections (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

Moroni (Comoros) (AFP) – The vice president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros, Mohamed Ali Soilihi, won the first round of the country’s presidential elections with 17.61 percent of the vote, preliminary results released late Tuesday showed.

Soilihi edged ahead of Mouigni Baraka, the governor of Grande Comore island, who garnered 15.09 percent, ahead of Colonel Azali Assoumani, who placed third with 14.96 percent.

The three candidates will now face off in a second-round of voting on April 10, with the winner succeeding outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine.

Some supporters of Fahmi Said Ibrahim, who had been one of the favourites but trailed in fourth place, alleged his low count had been due to fraud.

Police dispersed a small group of Ibrahim supporters who gathered at the party’s headquarters on Grande Comore.

An African Union observer mission led by former Tunisian president Mohamed Moncef Marzouki said “apart from few isolated incidents, the entire election took place in an orderly and peaceful” manner.

The first round of voting on Sunday only took place on Grande Comore, in accordance with electoral rules that ensure the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the country’s three main islands.

The system was established in 2001 after more than 20 coups or attempted coups in the years following independence from France in 1975.

Dhoinine’s completion of his five-term term has been seen as a sign of growing stability in the Comoros.

The article was published in Yahoo! News.

Kenyans Reacquire an Old Taste: Eating Healthier (NYT)

In the 1950s and ’60s, governments in Africa and Asia started subsidizing the production of staple crops like rice and corn because it was the fastest way to fill bellies and reduce starvation in those regions. Today, needs have changed: The problem is no longer chronic hunger but malnutrition, and the solution is not more calories, but better calories.

A field of maize in Malawi.Credit Mike Hutchings/Reuters

It’s a crucial difference. A diet of corn or rice may keep a person alive, but can result in myriad health issues from night-blindness to severe anemia. For decades, however, governments, agriculture companies and development organizations have focused so heavily on staple crop production that Africa and South Asia are now growing too much corn (or maize, as it’s widely known abroad) and rice, says Prabhu Pingali, director of the Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative at Cornell University. Most of the surpluses are used for animal feed, in some cases to drive the growth of industrial animal production.

These starchy foods are not only insufficient to combat malnutrition; they have also displaced crops that are more nutrient-rich but harder to produce. And while governments have undertaken significant efforts, particularly since the global food crisis of 2008, to control prices for staple crops, they have made little effort to support the production or affordability of more nutritious foods, says Pingali. (See his critique of food policies as published in a June 2015 report in the journal Food Security. At the site, click on “Look Inside.”)

Consider lentils, or dal, in India, a legume that is rich in protein, fiber and key nutrients. “For decades, dal prices were rising relative to rice prices, but nobody said anything about it,” said Pingali. “It’s only now that people are saying: ‘Wait a minute. We need dal as much as we need rice. Where’s our dal strategy?’”

Governments around the world have long failed to promote the production or availability of a wide range of legumes, vegetables or fruits; in fact, just about every food other than corn, wheat or rice has been neglected. “Like in many other countries, when you talk about food security, Kenyans are talking about how many bags of maize we have,” said Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, a horticultural researcher at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology near Nairobi. She has a story to tell about how to start turning things around.

Ten years ago, vegetables that had been introduced during colonial times, mainly cabbage, collard greens and kale (sukuma wiki in Swahili), were standard fare in many parts of Kenya, particularly urban areas. Indigenous greens like African nightshade, jute mallow and spider plant had become associated with poverty, and many Kenyans chose not to eat them despite their greater nutritional value.

Abukutsa has published more than a dozen studies documenting the robust health benefits of the traditional vegetables, which are high in vitamin A, iron, zinc and other micronutrients often lacking in local diets. Moreover, she began working to encourage restaurants and supermarkets to serve or carry these vegetables; she and her students took field trips to help farmers grow them; and she helped to develop and publish recipes to make them more appealing and approachable, since preparation for some of the greens can be rather involved, and some traditional cooking knowledge had become less widespread as the vegetables’ popularity declined. Then she circulated her findings to other researchers, to get them interested in these nutritional powerhouses.

Today, restaurants throughout Nairobi serve greens like African nightshade to packed lunch crowds and supermarkets sell out of them while kale wilts on the shelf, a sign that the traditional vegetables have been taking over the exotic varieties. More farmers are growing the indigenous greens, and in the most convincing sign of increasing commercial interest, seed companies are breeding them.

Abukutsa has also worked to include the study and breeding of indigenous vegetables in university curriculums, because she knows that horticulture students often go on to become agriculture extension officers, the key source of farming advice for farmers around the country. Five universities now include the cultivation of indigenous fruits and vegetables in their syllabuses, she said. While the obvious goal was to ensure that knowledge about indigenous crops trickled down to farmers, there has also been a potentially more powerful result: The insights that drive these efforts have been trickling up as well, and are making their way into national policy.

Historically, Kenya’s ministries of health and agriculture have operated in isolation from one another, but in 2012, they decided to collaborate on a new agricultural policy that emphasizes more diverse, underutilized and nutrient-dense crops, Abukutsa explained. “The policy we had before had been focusing more on commercial crops for export and staples,” she said. “We needed a policy specifically addressing nutrition — not just talking about production.”

The government’s policy proposal has not been published yet because the draft text is not yet in final shape. But when it is, Abukutsa expects that it, like policy declarations before it, will affect the type of training available to farmers through the government’s extension program and perhaps the types of crops for which research is funded.

“The new policy will ensure that when we talk about food security, we are not just talking about maize — that we are talking about all that is available,” she said. The resurgence in popularity of indigenous vegetables is too recent to show an impact on national health statistics, but Abukutsa is confident it will lead to improvement, especially in relation to malnutrition and degenerative diseases. She’ll be tracking the results.

Other groups too are working to breed and improve the quality of indigenous crops in Kenya and around the globe. The Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Center has been leading a campaign to breed and conserve threatened varieties of indigenous fruits such as baobab, bush mango and African plum. It has a team working with small-scale farmers in Cameroon and other parts of Africa to domesticate fruit trees that have always grown in the wild. Largely because of deforestation, the fate of these trees in the wild is uncertain, so domestication may not only preserve them, it may also lead to the development of varieties of trees that will be more nutritious and resilient.

Elsewhere, the Taiwan-based World Vegetable Center has been breeding varieties of indigenous vegetables around the world, although its communications director, Maureen Mecozzi, said the work remains an uphill battle. “Although many countries now recognize the need to encourage production of a more diverse set of crops, developing the policies, funding the research, and building the infrastructure to support that diversity is a big challenge,” she said.

So far, there has been no research from which to quantify the changes in Kenyans’ consumption of indigenous fruits and vegetables, the impact of those crops on the nutritional status and overall health of populations. But researchers who work globally, like Pingali, and locally, like Abukutsa, are confident that the only path that makes sense is focusing more on vegetables and other nonstaple crops, whether they are indigenous or not.

“I’m now of the view that we’ve sort of beat the calorie problem,” said Pingali. “Even if you think towards 2050 horizons, we’ve got the tools and the mechanisms to support the demand for staple grains. Now, a lot of people will argue me on that. But I believe the same people who say we need to double the amount of rice, et cetera, should also be asked: Well, what about tomatoes? What about green beans?”

“As you think to the future and the demands for food in the future,” he said, “only focusing on staples puts us in this really funny situation of creating increased imbalance in our diets.”

Rachel Cernansky is a freelance journalist in Denver. She writes about agriculture, health, and the environment.

Read More at the NY Times.com

You now have access to the same crime stats the NYPD uses (NY Post)

City officials on Tuesday unveiled a new digital version of Compstat that will give the public ‘”unprecedented”’ access to the most current NYPD crime statistics.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (left) holds an NYPD-issued smart phone that can access crime data while NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton holds an old police radio model during a news conference on Feb. 23. Photo: Chad Rachman

The innovative technology, dubbed Compstat 2.0, will be accessed by NYPD beat cops through their smart phones to give them more complete, timely reports on crime as it happens, officials said. The public can retrieve the information through a link on the Police Department’s Web site, which is currently up and running, officials said.

“CompStat 2 is the ability to take all of the CompStat information…with a few exceptions…and now share it with both you – the media – and to the public most importantly,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters at a press conference at police headquarters.

Those “exceptions” include crime victims’ names and the exact addresses of incidents, officials said. For now, in terms of crime locations, only the closest intersection will be released to the public, they said.

Mayor de Blasio attended the briefing, lauding the new program as “revolutionary.”

The crime numbers used in CompStat — the department’s 21-year-old crime-data tool — will be updated every Wednesday, allowing the public to review the numbers even before NYPD brass discusses the statistics at their weekly CompStat meeting held on Thursdays at 1 Police Plaza.

“I want people in this city to know this is another step toward being the strongest, best police force in the 21st century,” de Blasio said.

“We want people to know what is going on their neighborhoods,” the mayor said. “We want that transparency.”

Up until now, the public did not have access to this level unless they went to the precinct and asked for reports, which would be redacted of names and addresses.

The technology, which can be released throughhttps://compstat.nypdonline.org, will give any user the ability to conduct a crime-data analysis of a certain area, mapping statistics down to the nearest intersection.

Jessica Tisch, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for the information technology, said the new program “is designed to provide unprecedented access to NYPD crime statistics essentially to give the public the data and the tools they need to view, map, and analyze NYPD crime numbers.”

Users can view citywide Compstat numbers for crimes including, murders, assaults, shootings, rapes, robberies, felonies, and grand larcenies, broken down by borough or by precinct.

Historically, rapes had been only mapped by the precinct and not by the nearest intersection.

“No other police department provides an analytical engine for crime mapping and review,” Tisch said.

The NYPD’s rank-and-file access to the data will also improve policing, officials said.

So far, 25,000 cops or 70 percent of the force have been issued smart phones. All 36,000 cops on the force will have smart phones that can access the data by next month, officials said.
Officials praised the smartphones used by police officers for helping to fight crimes.

“The fact that these smartphones provided these basic tools to cops has in and of itself driven productivity in this department and that’s even before you start to discuss the custom applications that are available to the cops on the phones,” Tisch said.

One app alerts cops of 911 calls even before they come over the radio. A blast messaging app allows them to get officer safety alerts and missing person alerts. The phones also have a mobile fingerprinting system.

“Yesterday, 5,329 cops swiped their ID on the back of their smartphone to use one of the custom designed apps,” said Tisch.

Those 5,329 cops looked at 28,941 911 jobs, viewed 2,079 wanted fliers, and ran 36,000 searches or queries of databases, according to Tisch.

Read More at the NY Post

(Go Woman Africa) Sierra Leone: Women refused entry to government buildings for showing their bare arms

Leaving Sierra Leone with my son. Sitting next to me is former parliamentarian newly appointed Minister of State Isata Kabia. Ms. Kabia sponsored the right to abortion bill that was passed in parliament but that got sent back by the President after giving in to pressures from a male dominated assembly of religious leaders. Photo Credit: Go Woman Africa

Leaving Sierra Leone with my son. Sitting next to me is former parliamentarian newly appointed Minister of State Isata Kabia. Ms. Kabia sponsored the right to abortion bill that was passed in parliament but that got sent back by the President after giving in to pressures from a male dominated assembly of religious leaders.
Photo Credit: Go Woman Africa

I went to the Immigration Head Office in Freetown, Sierra Leone on a Monday to submit a passport application for my son. On this day I entered the building sans problem, I went passed the security, greeted them and asked for Mr. Kakay’s office. They directed me to a desk inside the building. I went there and they said he was on the third floor.

I spent something like 2 hours at the Immigration Office and was told to return two days later at about 10am to collect the passport. On Wednesday morning with my son in arms, I got out of the car and proceeded towards the entrance just as I had done two days before. I said Good Morning and was about to continue on when a police officer stopped me. This was the same officer who I had greeted two days earlier. I knew he recognized me because I recognized him.

“Excuse me?” I asked half confused.

“You can not enter you are wearing a singlet,” he said.

“A what?”

“Sleeveless. Read the sign. You can’t wear singlet in this office.”

He points to a sign that was behind him taped on the side of the entrance that I had not noticed when I came on Monday. From where I was standing I could not see the sign.

I took a breath. A very deep breath.

“OK. I understand but that sign is all the way over there and I didn’t know there was a dress code. I’m just here to pick up my son’s passport”.

“That is not my problem, go and come back,” he said.

Another Police Officer, he looked older standing on the top of the platform brought himself into the conversation.

“Where do you live?”

“In a hotel, but I can’t go and come back to change my top”.

“Ah well you cannot enter here like that, that is the rule”.

I take another deep breath. I am holding my baby so I don’t want to be upset. Since giving birth 5 months ago, I have taken to wearing tank tops to make it easier for me to breastfeed as and when he needs it. They can see that I am holding a baby. They can see that it is hot. They can also see that by the fact that I was there at the Immigration Office which serves that I am also Sierra Leonean, like them.

“I understand you are doing your job. I understand that this is your law. Can you please call someone from inside who can then assist me with collecting my son’s passport while we wait outside.”

“No I won’t be able to do that”, the younger of the two officers said.

At this point of the conversation I had been reduced to 60 percent of self because when you have to deal with micro aggressions whether they be race or gender based that is what happens. You are reduced to feeling less of a person. The rationale for these dress codes is that if you are a woman and you have on a sleeveless top or shirt or dress that you must be there to seduce one of the Immigration staff. That any woman who dresses like that must be there looking for a man. Because that is what we women do, we come with our breasts to shove in their faces.

“As a police officer you know your job is not to just enforce the law but to serve and assist citizens like me right?”

“Me noh know that”, he says.

“I don tell you say you noh dey go inside.”

At this point people start to gather and they start to ask what, and why. I am still holding my son. Still standing under the sun and now being reduced some more, as I am shamed for wearing a tank top by all the additional eyes there present. I am now 50 percent of self. I explain myself to three different people.

One man an older man comes out and says yes you must respect our country. You go back to where you came from and wear proper clothes. You can not come in here.

“Is this not my country too?”

“Me noh know if na you country.”

I am still holding my son. We are still under the sun being refused entry into a building where I spent many many years playing under the desks. Until I was age 10, when we left Sierra Leone, my mother’s office was on the third floor. This was once the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I had grown up, eating groundnut under the tables, with the children of other Ministry staff. After school we would all walk from our various schools, and collect each other and make it to our parents’ office. It was like a unique form of Daycare, that for the most part is probably being practiced in offices in Freetown. You go wait at your parent’s office and you go home together. In this office  I had been locked countless times in the elevator when there was light off. I had lost one shoes, socks, books, and toys countless times.  It was ironic that of all the buildings in all of Freetown that it would be this same one that my mother had served in for some 30 years that I was being refused entry.

I am asked to step to the side. That I should not block the entrance. People have to go in, I was not people, for this morning I was less than that because I had on a tank top that revealed my arms and chest.

“Go over there!’

They point to the side of the building, a little off to the right. I step away from the front. I stand to the side. It seems like it is going to drizzle. Oh no those aren’t rain drops, they are the tears that start to well up whenever I get reduced below 50 percent of self. It seems my tears never can hold below this point.

I will not cry. You must not cry I tell myself. This is what Sierra Leone does, it tries to make you powerless. It tries to reduce you. You must not be reduced. I must say something to fight back.

“You know this is what is wrong with this country?” I say it loud enough for them to hear me.

“We don’t have any compassion for one another. What if I was your sister, or your wife is this how you would want them to be treated?”

I’m not sure anyone even cares or hears me but I feel better saying that. I know that whatever indignity I am suffering here, I know for a fact that it compares not to the indignities women of lower socio economic status have to suffer in Sierra Leone. I reassure myself that I will get in. This is how they are. I don’t even know who “they” are but I know that this is them.

A man comes out and he says he wants to help me. I have caused enough of a fuss I guess, by refusing to walk away and be dismissed. He asks me what I want and I tell him. Then he goes inside and a woman comes out and hands me a very very sheer scarf. I don’t know how many others like myself, having been reduced have shared arm skin on this scarf. I take it reluctantly barely covering with it and walk passed the police officer. The woman I am going to meet is already coming down the steps, someone had told her I was there. She takes me to the passport section downstairs, formerly the protocol division of Foreign Affairs of which my mother was a director of an all male team. It takes me 5 minutes to sign the form and receive my son’s passport. It took me 30 minutes to enter the building.

As I’m signing the register the man who helped me says, you know you are right. We need a little bit more compassion in Sierra Leone. I don’t smile, I don’t make small talk. I’m still suffering from having been reduced. I hand the scarf back to the owner. I walk out of the building and as I leave I say this to the police office;

“Sometimes we see people on the street they are poor and suffering and no one knows why, maybe they suffer because at some point in their life they showed no “sorri heart” to another human being, maybe one day that will be you. God dey.”

IMG_4412 IMG_4416

I didn’t bother to read the sign the was printed on A4 and stuck on the inside of the building. I don’t know if the dress code is even legal especially when it only applies to women. This is not the only government building in Sierra Leone where women are subjected to this kind of harassment and indignity. At State House, the Office of the President you will be turned away depending on who you are if you are wearing pants, yes even a corporate style pant suit because women wearing trousers clearly are sexually loose and will come there to seduce their employees. The same goes for the Youyi Building, if you attempt to enter it on foot, and if you are a woman who looks like you are not well off someone will attempt to stop you. Every single day women are being harassed in Sierra Leone, suffering micro aggressions put there to reduce them, and make them feel less. It happened to me, it could happen to anyone and after this incident I read a letter from the nation’s corporate affairs boss, another woman who was subjected to the same reductions.

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(Yahoo! News) Crowded field competes for Comoros president

Voters queue in the Comoros capital Moroni to cast their ballots for the presidential election from a crowded field of 25 candidates on February 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

Voters queue in the Comoros capital Moroni to cast their ballots for the presidential election from a crowded field of 25 candidates on February 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Ibrahim Youssouf)

By Béatrice Debut, Aboubacar M’Changama

February 21, 2016 1:32 PM

Moroni (Comoros) (AFP) – Voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros cast their ballots in an election for a new president Sunday from a crowded field of 25 candidates, with a struggling economy and poor infrastructure high on the agenda.

Officials started counting the ballots after polling stations closed, using candlelight and camping lamps in a country that suffers from endemic electricity shortages that paralyse the economy, said an AFP journalist in Moroni.

Polling in the country of less than one million people took place without any major incidents, although some were delayed by the late arrival of voting materials.

Voting in areas affected by delays continued after the official closing time at 6:00 pm.

A total of 159,000 voters on Grande Comore island were eligible to vote in the first round of the election, in accordance with electoral rules that stipulate the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the archipelago’s three main islands.

Among those running for president are a former coup leader and the vice president.

After the first round, the three top candidates will go into a nationwide run-off on April 10 that will decide the successor to President Ikililou Dhoinine.

Dhoinine comes from Moheli, the smallest of the three main islands. The other island in the trio is Anjouan.

The system of rotating candidates among islands was established in 2001 in a bid to usher in stability after more than 20 coups or attempted coups, in the years following independence from France in 1975.

Among the candidates leading the field are vice president Mohamed Ali Soilihi, Grande Comore governor Mouigni Baraka and Azali Assoumani, a former coup leader and two-time former president.

Athoumani Toioussi, an unemployed mother who was voting in the capital Moroni, on Grande Comore, said she would vote for Assoumani, despite his coup history.

“Yes, he came to power through a coup but it helped get the country out of chaos,” Toioussi told AFP.

Another voter, Houmadi Ahmedi, favoured Baraka saying “he gave learning materials to elementary school.”

– Avoiding ‘double voting’ –

Moinaecha Youssouf Djalali, a businesswoman, is the only female candidate in a country where the majority are Sunni Muslims.

Dhoinine’s successful completion of his five-year term has been seen as a sign of growing stability in Comoros, though many candidates had expressed fears of electoral fraud.

“Real efforts are being made by the election commission and international actors to ease any political or social tensions,” European Union representative Eduardo Campos Martins said.

With suspicion poisoning the political atmosphere in the archipelago nation, “we are entering the sensitive phase now, with the tallying and counting,” said Nadia Torqui, a UN consultant.

The electoral commission on Saturday had agreed to a request from 20 candidates to ban proxy voting, seen as a possible source of fraud, “to preserve the peace”.

Voters were also set to be forbidden from leaving Moroni or moving between villages unless they had an official pass “to avoid double voting”, the interior ministry said.

The election is being monitored by dozens of African and international observers as well as a 425-person monitoring platform established by local civil society groups.

The campaign of all 25 candidates had been centred on similar promises of free health care, education and infrastructure improvement, in a country where the roads are riddled with potholes and women and children queue for water.

Voters were also choosing governors for the three islands.

Early results were expected from Sunday night.

The article was originally published in Yahoo! News.