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Top African scholar, Ali Mazrui dies

posted 13 Oct 2014, 04:06 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Oct 2014, 04:08 ]

Kenyan born academic and political commentator and writer on African and Islamic studies, Ali Al'amin Mazrui dies in the US after illness.


NEW YORK, USA  (REUTERS) -  One of the foremost scholars of African studies, Ali Mazrui has died at the age of 81.

Mazrui, a leading pan-Africanist was a professor at the Binghamton University in New York at the time of his death. Reports say he had been ill for several months.

Mazrui was born in Mombasa, on Kenya's coast in 1933. He grew up in Kenya but went on to pursue higher education in the United KingdomMakerere University in Uganda and then the United States.

Mazrui was named one of the top 100 intellectual people in the world by American and British magazines.

His research in African and Islamic studies, international politics and culture and North-South relations is highly respected and referred to widely in the academic world.

Officials in Kenya say his body will be flown back to Kenya for burial.

Couple wins U.S. wife carrying competition, taking home the "wife's" weight in beer

posted 11 Oct 2014, 15:13 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 15:14 ]

Maine couple wins 15th Annual North American Wife Carrying Championship, to take home the "wife's" weight in beer and five times her weight in cash.


NEWRY, MAINE, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 11, 2014) (SUNDAY RIVER) -   Maine couple Jesse Wall and Christina Arsenault won the 15th North American Wife Carrying Championship on Saturday (October 11).

Fifty couples raced along a 278-yard (254 meter) course with the women mostly clinging upside down to the men's backs.

The race, which originated in Finland, is intended to evoke the spirit of a legendary Finnish brigand, Rosvo-Ronkainen, who made those who wanted to join his gang run through a forest carrying heavy sacks on their backs.

In the modern version, couples race along a track, tackling mud, a pool and hurdles, with the men carrying the women on their backs. According to organizers, most "wives" are volunteers.

Wall and Christina Arsenault have been competing since 2010, with two second-place results and two third-place finishes, before claiming their first North American title with a time of 1:04.10.

"It feels absolutely incredible to finally be the winners," said Wall. "As a local guy who skis Sunday River all the time-and I'm getting married here next June. So it will probably be the last time."

Wall and Arsenault took home Arsenault's weight in Shock Top beer and Johnny Appleseed cider as well as five times her weight in cash for a grand total of $482.50.

London dads go back to school to learn the art of creative play

posted 11 Oct 2014, 14:42 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 14:45 ]

A 'dad academy' launches in London to help busy working days learn how to play creatively with their children.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 9, 2014) (REUTERS) -  A group of dads makig plastic rockets may not seem like a radical social experiment, but the idea of classes in learning to play with your children in London is, say organisers, to curtail the impact of work on family life.

The idea is that fathers can learn more creative and educational play skills so that they can spend more time with their children.

The so-called Dad Academy was launched after recent research revealed many British fathers are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

32 per cent of dads told researchers there were many playtime activities they had never done due to being too busy with their careers.

"By the time you get home all you have enough time to do is put your son to bed and then you have the weekends but you have to do DIY, it's nice to be able to come here to learn a skill and then be able to share that with your son," said father Emmanuel Davis.

"I've got a three year old girl and she will love this sort of thing, so yeah we will have fun hopefully setting it off tomorrow," said another dad Daniel Jenner.

The leader of the class, which involved making plastic rockets, was scientist and TV presenter DrYan Wong.

"The main thing that is going to be structuring your child's view of the world and their education is the attitude of their parents and I am a scientist, I like science, and I would hope to sort of give that exceitement about the natural world and pass that onto my children and I would hope other people would too," he said.

The Dad Academy classes are now taking placwe weekly at London's Soho House.

12-year-old's church 'wedding' to highlight plight of child brides

posted 11 Oct 2014, 14:21 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 14:22 ]

The church "marriage" of a 12-year old Norwegian girl named Thea to a 37-year-old man is staged by children's development organisation Plan International to highlight the issue of child brides around the world.

OSLO, NORWAY (OCTOBER 11, 2014) (REUTERS) -  The church "marriage" of a 12-year old Norwegian girl named Thea to a 37-year-old man was staged on Saturday (October 11) by children's development organisation Plan International to highlight the issue of child brides around the world.

The campaign has received widespread attention in Norway and around the world, with some believing that the wedding plans were real and that the 12-year-old was to be married in Oslo.

Having entered the church and gone to the altar with her husband-to-be, the staged ceremony was interrupted by "protesters" - a group of actors and volunteers, intervening on Thea's behalf and chanting "stop the wedding!" and so the nuptials never took place.

In the period leading up to the mock wedding, blonde-haired, green-eyed pre-teen Thea blogged about her feelings about her upcoming union, from her make-up and hair for the big day to having to abandon her dreams of becoming a veterinarian as she will have to leave school as soon as she is married.

Peppered with "selfies" and images from her daily life, Thea's blog covered a wide range of subjects, from her love of horses and boy band One Direction to her thoughts about having sex with her "husband" and becoming pregnant at a young age.

Thea will now go back to being a normal Norwegian 12-year-old, but organisers Plan International say that thousands of others around the world won't be so lucky.

"Today we have just stopped one out of 39,000 underage marriages that takes place every single day," Plan Norway General Secretary Olaf Thommesen told reporters following the "wedding."

According to Plan International, 14 million young girls are married globally every year before they reach the age of 18 - an average of 39,000 per day. The organisation says that child brides are subjected to physical and emotional violence and often become pregnant at a young age, leading to physical and mental health problems.

"I think it's important because I want to show more people how bad the underage marriage situation really is," the 12-year-old said about her participation in the campaign. "There are like 39000 underage girls getting forced into married every day, and I want to help spread the word about how awful underage marriage is."

The campaign by Plan Norway spread through social media, with some observers believing that the wedding plans were real.

In reality, Thea would never have been able to legally marry in Norway at the age of 12 - like most European countries, the legal age for marriage there is 18, or 16 with the permission of parents and the county governor.

Malala's Nobel prize is the talk of the town, even in Hollywood

posted 11 Oct 2014, 06:45 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 06:46 ]

Viola DavisReese Witherspoon and Jane Fonda cheer on Malala Yousafzai's Nobel prize win at event honoring powerful women.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 10, 2014) (REUTERS) - Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon and Jane Fonda were among the honorees promoting female empowerment at the Power of Women Luncheon in Beverly Hills on Friday (October 10).

Ordinarily the talk would be all about them but instead most people on the red carpet were abuzz about Malala Yousafzai's Nobel Peace prize win earlier that morning.

"Yes, I was so excited. I woke up to an email this morning that said that Malala won the Nobel Peace prize. Not only is it incredible that she accomplished this but she's the youngest person ever, at 17 years old, to win the Nobel Peace prize. So, I woke up my daughter who is the first person who ever gave me Malala's book and I said, she won today, she won the Nobel Peace prize, so Ava was really excited," says actress Reese Witherspoon.

Witherspoon attended the event as an honoree for her work with the Malala Fund, promoting education for girls everywhere.

Viola Davis, who was recognized for her work with Hunger Is, raising awareness and funds for children living in poverty, was equally excited for Malala's recognition.

"Awesome I think. I heard that, my husband and I watching it this morning. And to think, you know, it was just a short time ago that she was injured and you didn't even know if she was going to live. And not only has she lived, now she's living a life even bigger than herself and impacting the world. I mean, we're talking about it here inCalifornia so I think it's wonderful," says Davis.

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls' right to education, along with Indian campaigner against child trafficking and labor Kailash Satyarthi, won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Yousafzai, 17, is the youngest Nobel Prize winner.

Hello Kitty takes L.A. by storm

posted 11 Oct 2014, 06:35 by Mpelembe   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 06:36 ]

It's supercute to the extreme - an entire museum exhibit dedicated to the past and present of Hello Kitty, just in time for her 40th birthday.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 10, 2014) (REUTERS) -  It'll be a 40th birthday to remember for Hello Kitty, and what more could a supercute girl want than an entire museum exhibition dedicated to her?

At the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, a retrospective exhibit looks at the wild life of the hugely popular mouthless cat who has become a global symbol of Japan's culture of "kawaii," or cute. From the very first use of Hello Kitty on a vinyl miniature coin purse, to giant artistic renditions of her as Cleopatra ("Kittypatra" by artist Simone Legno) and an anime-inspired action hero ("Super Space Titan Kitty" by Colin Christian), "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of HelloKitty" will satisfy her biggest fans of all ages. Even Abraham Lincoln likes Hello Kitty, or at least it would seem that way, from a portrait by Scott Scheidly that hangs in the exhibit.

Since her creation in 1974 in a design contest in Japan, she has won over legions of international supporters who admire her message of love, friendship, and caring, including Janet Hsu, the President and COO of Sanrio, the company that owns HelloKitty. Hsu remembers her admiration for the character when she was growing up.

"I grew emotionally connected with her through the years. The reason why she inspires me is she's a friend to everyone, she's a unique companion to each person," says Hsu. "She touches every part of your world, like if you saw the entire exhibition, you could literally go from morning to evening with everything Hello Kitty, and she's very relevant, she represents friendship, love, thoughtfulness."

The exhibit features two parts - a retrospective of Hello Kitty's past, including her various used marketing everything from plush toys to aircraft, and a contemporary take on her life through an array of paintings, prints, sculptures and media from artists around the world.

Dr. Christine Yano served as co-curator of the retrospective portion of the exhibit, and says that Hello Kitty represented a turning point in the way that the world looked at Japanese culture abroad.

"I certainly see Hello Kitty very much in step with the popularity of Japanese pop culture in the United States, and certainly she was at the forefront of a kind of certainly a cute culture coming from Japan that grew in the United States," says Dr. Yano, who is also the author of "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific."

The love for Hello Kitty was so deep for Jamie Rivadeneira, the curator of the contemporary section, that she has built a life and career out of it. Eight years ago she decided to open JapanLA, a retail store in Los Angeles that is dedicated to Japanese cuteness, with Hello Kitty as a centerpiece. She says artists are drawn to Hello Kitty because they can take liberties with her character.

"She's a really good blank canvas, she doesn't have a mouth, she doesn't really have a personality written for her, like a story. She's made to put on product, so I feel like the artist can speak through her really easily, and project their emotions and their feelings on her," says Rivadeneira, who co-curated the exhibit.

Fans of Hello Kitty need not rush to Los Angeles -- "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" will run from October 10 through April 2015.

Wedding Bells For Kanye West And Kim Kardashian On Vogue Cover

posted 22 Mar 2014, 03:28 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Mar 2014, 03:29 ]

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian pose in wedding attire for Vogue's April 2014 cover.

(ANNIE LEIBOVITZ / VOGUE) - Rapper Kanye West and fiancee, reality star Kim Kardashian, will appear in wedding garb on the April cover of fashion magazine Vogue.

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The pair, in a photo shot by Annie Leibovitz, look set to walk down the aisle in their wedding gown and tux, with West standing behind Kardashian and embracing her.

The two have been engaged since October, when West rented out AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and proposed, presenting Kardashian with a diamond ring.

Grammy-winning West, 36 and Kardashian, star of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," started dating in April 2012 and have a daughter, North West, who was born in June.

It has been widely speculated that the couple are planning a Paris wedding this year.

In a behind-the-scenes video posted on, the couple is seen laughing together and doting over their baby, who also makes an appearance in the photo spread.

It will be the third marriage for Kardashian. She wed her second husband, NBA basketball player Kris Humphries, in an elaborate ceremony filmed for the reality TV show, but the union lasted only 72 days. Her first marriage to music producer Damon Thomas also ended in divorce.

The April Vogue cover can be seen at; the issue hits newsstands on March 31st.

Pope Tells Mafia To Stop Evil Or Prepare For Hell

posted 22 Mar 2014, 03:23 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Mar 2014, 03:24 ]

Pope Francis attends a vigil with families of mafia victims, calling on mobsters to stop doing evil.

ROME, ITALY (MARCH 21, 2014) (CTV)  Pope Francis attended an annual vigil held by the families of victims of mafia violence on Friday (March 21), underscoring the continuing force of one of Italy's oldest economic, political and cultural problems.

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The appearance marked the first time a pope has attended the annual event - now in its 19th year - which is always held on the first day of spring.

The pope met with about 900 relatives of people murdered by the mafia.

Francis spoke at the end of the reading of the victims' names which started at 5:30 p.m. (1630 GMT).

He ended his address with a message to mafia members.

"I feel that I cannot finish without addressing those who are greatly absent today, the protagonists who are not here, the men and women who are part of the mafia. Please, change your lifestyle, convert, stop doing evil," he said.

"Convert, you still have time not to end up in hell, that is what awaits you if you continue on this path. You too had a father and a mother, think of them, cry a little and convert," the pope added.

The mafia continues to be scourge for much of southern Italy, and just four days ago, a four-year-old boy was shot to death near the southern city of Taranto in a suspected mob hit that also killed the boy's mother and her boyfriend.

In January, after the charred body of a three-year-old boy was found in a burned car alongside his grandfather and another woman, Francis urged the suspected mafia killers to "repent and convert to the Lord."

Organised crime controls almost all economic and criminal activity in CalabriaSicily and parts of Campania and Apulia, and it has greatly extended its influence to Rome andMilan in the past two decades.

Italy's main crime groups - the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and the Camorra from around the southern city of Naples - have a joint annual turnover of 116 billion euros ($159.89 billion), according to a United Nations estimate.

That is more than the annual sales of Italy's biggest company, oil giant Eni.

Judge Strikes Down Michgan's Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

posted 22 Mar 2014, 03:01 by Mpelembe   [ updated 22 Mar 2014, 03:02 ]

A federal judge strikes down a Michigan ban on same-sex marriage, a victory for gay couples in the state including April DeBoer and her partner Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in the case.

 HAZEL PARKMICHIGANUNITED STATES (MARCH 21, 2014) (NBC) - A U.S. federal judge struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage on Friday (March 21) as a violation of equal protection rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution in the latest in a series of court rulings across the nation to allow gay couples to wed.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an immediate request to put the decision on hold pending an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The ban, voted into law in 2004 as a state constitutional amendment, "does not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest" and discriminates against same-sex couples, Judge Bernard Friedman found in a 31-page ruling.

The challenge to Michigan's law was brought by a lesbian couple who live in the Detroitsuburb of Hazel Park and had sought to jointly adopt each other's children but were denied that right under Michigan law.

The couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, challenged both the ban on same-sex marriage and state adoption law.

DeBoer and Rowse celebrated with their attorney Dana Nessel when they received notice of the ruling.

"I'm overwhelmed. We're going to actually be a legalized family," said Rowse.

"This is what we've wanted for our family and families like ours and we are just so happy and proud that Michigan is now on the right side of history," said DeBoer.

DeBoer later told a news conference that she and Rowse would not marry right away because of the possibility the decision could be overturned.

Friday's ruling followed a nine-day trial and was in line with similar recent rulings by a series of federal judges who have found bans on gay marriage unconstitutional inTexasUtah and other states. Those rulings have been put on hold pending appeals.

Lawyers seeking a stay of the ruling on behalf of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Schuette said one was needed to avoid confusion and maintain the status quo while appellate courts decide how Michigan and other states may define marriage.

Barely a decade ago no U.S. states permitted gays to marry. Support has surged sinceMassachusetts became the first state to make same-sex marriage legal, and 17 states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex nuptials. That number would be substantially increased if a series of recent court decisions are upheld.

Momentum has grown since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits in a decision that struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Gay rights advocates also have filed lawsuits challenging bans in ArizonaIndiana,WisconsinWyoming and other states

Europeans Bask In First Day Of Spring

posted 21 Mar 2014, 09:28 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 09:29 ]

Europeans are making the most of the first day of spring, with warm temperatures and sunshine across much of the continent encouraging people to shake off their winter blues.

ROME, ITALY (MARCH 21, 2014) (REUTERS) - Much of Europe marked the first day of spring on Friday (March 21) drenched in glorious sunshine and warm temperatures and it didn't take much to encourage people to make the most of the end of winter.

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In Rome many could be seen lunching on restaurants' outdoor terraces while an order of Italian gelato ice cream was a must for many tourists.

Irish tourist Father William Reynolds said the longer days were a delight after the long winter months and the sunlight important for many reasons, especially for agriculture.

"Well, it's light, it's an expansion of day light and for us, because we're up in northern Europe, birds begin to sing, weather begins to get fine and there's a whole culture of spring," he said.

Temperatures in Rome were due to peak at around 21 degrees Celsius on Friday.

The scenes were similar in the Greek capital where locals and tourists alike enjoyed balmy temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius.

"It's lovely, everyone seems to enjoy it, everyone seems to forget their problems, so yeah, I love it, it's great. I'm going to read a book and hang out in the sun," said German-born Athens resident Gigi Krueger.

In Istanbul, meanwhile, people took to the banks of the Bosporus to spend the spring afternoon by the water.

Local resident Mehmet Yuvasatan said the warm weather made everything better.

"People feel refreshed and more happy, business gets better. Spring and summer are best seasons," he said.

However, it may still be too early to pack away the winter clothes, at least in the Italian capital. Weather experts say temperatures will drop again at the weekend with thunder and highs of 11 degrees Celsius forecast for Rome on Monday.

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