Friday, April 23, 2010

Video: Lost Black city buried under Arlington Cemetery

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Video: Lauren London on Lil Wayne and motherhood

Microsoft to invest in small Black-owned firms in South Africa – AFP

JOHANNESBURG — Microsoft is to invest half a billion rands in small black-owned software development firms in South Africa, the company said Friday.

The deal falls under South Africa's black economic empowerment policies introduced in 2003, to redress apartheid-era laws which barred most black people from any meaningful economic activity.

"We want to create a new model for entrepreneurship and set a new benchmark for developing talent in the local software industry," Microsoft South Africa managing director Mteto Nyati told AFP.

"We want (black economic empowerment) to be associated with real development, job creation, business development and skills enhancement.

"We came up with something unique and hope this model would be used by other companies."

The empowerment deal will see the company invest 472 million rands (67.4 million US dollars, 50.3 million euros) over the next seven years into the country's software industry.

"The local industry is largely consumption based today. We take software packages developed in other countries... there is nothing that is coming from South Africa," Nyati said.

Beneficiaries will be chosen from responses to a nationwide request for proposal which will be advertised on April 28.

Candidates will be screened by consultants KPMG, and the firms chosen will begin work with Microsoft as soon as July 2010, the company said in a statement.

"We?re looking to take existing software development companies and transform them into companies that compete in South Africa and around the world," Nyati said.

The investment follows several major empowerment deals. Brewer SABMiller sold 750 million dollars' worth of shares in its South African subsidiary to black investors in December.

Last month global pulp and paper group Sappi announced its plans to sell a 4.5 percent stake to black investors, enabling the company's local operation to have a 30 percent black ownership as required by law.

Video: Naomi Campbell walks out of ABC News interview

CNN's Soledad O'Brien Named Journalist of the Year by Black Journalists Group

WASHINGTON, April 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Association of Black Journalists named CNN's Soledad O'Brien Journalist of the Year at its spring Board of Directors meeting. O'Brien will join other top honorees at the association's Salute to Excellence Gala, on July 31 in San Diego, during NABJ's 35th Annual Convention and Career Fair, the largest gathering of minority journalists in the country.

O'Brien is the impetus of CNN's acclaimed "In America" franchise, which began with CNN's "Black In America" in 2008, a groundbreaking documentary, which took an in-depth look at the challenges confronting blacks in America. In 2009 CNN followed up with "Black In America 2," a project which didn't just seek to highlight challenges, but also acknowledged the efforts by those in the community to come up with proven solutions to the most pressing issues facing the black community. "Black In America 2" was the highest-rated cable news documentary of 2009, sparking conversations and town hall gatherings across the country to further examine the intersection of race, class and gender – subjects that can be challenging for the media to explore.

"Soledad's work in the 'Black in America' series offered extraordinary and gripping stories of successful community leaders who are improving the lives of African Americans," said NABJ President Kathy Y. Times. "This was an example of great reporting, and through her work and platform she shared the stories in our communities that often go untold. She is truly worthy of NABJ's Journalist of the Year honor."

O'Brien crisscrossed the U.S. and included reporting from Ghana and South Africa as she uncovered the people and programs at the forefront of change – people inspiring volunteerism, programs that are improving access to quality healthcare and education, and leaders working to address financial disparities and develop strong families.

"Soledad is a solid journalist with a long list of accomplishments," said Bob Butler, NABJ Vice-President of Broadcast. "Her reporting is always done with great thought and perspective. We are proud to have her in the NABJ family."

O'Brien is currently an anchor and special correspondent for CNN. She joined the network in July 2003 as the co-anchor of the network's flagship morning program, "American Morning," and distinguished herself by reporting from the scene on the transformational stories that broke on her watch, including Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Southeast Asia. During CNN's Katrina coverage, O'Brien's reports on the storm's impact included an in-depth interview with former FEMA chief Michael Brown. She also covers political news as part of CNN's "Best Political Team on Television." Earlier, O'Brien spent 12 years at NBC News where she anchored "Weekend Today," and was one of the original anchors of MSNBC.

The Salute to Excellence Awards Gala recognizes journalism that best covered the black experience or addressed issues affecting the worldwide black community during 2009.

NABJ's 35th Annual Convention and Career Fair will take place July 28- August 1 in San Diego, Calif. For additional information, ticket sales, registration, please visit us at

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization of journalists of color in the nation, with more than 3,000 members, and provides educational and career development and support to black journalists worldwide.

SOURCE National Association of Black Journalists

Officials: NYC terror suspect to plead guilty

NEW YORK — A man charged in a plot by an admitted al-Qaida associate to set off homemade bombs in the New York subway system plans to plead guilty to terror charges, two law enforcement officials said Friday.

Zarein Ahmedzay was expected to appear early Friday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn, the two officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceeding hadn't been formally announced. They said Ahmedzay planned to plead guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to a terrorist organization and other counts.

There was no immediate response to a message left with Ahmedzay's lawyer. Federal prosecutors declined to comment.

Authorities allege that Ahmedzay joined the plot's mastermind, Najibullah Zazi, and another friend from their Queens high school on a trip to Pakistan in 2008 to seek terror training.

Zazi, a Colorado airport van driver, admitted earlier this year that he tested bomb-making materials in a Denver suburb before traveling by car to New York with the intent of attacking the subway system to avenge U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.

Ahmedzay and the third suspect, Adis Medunjanin, had previously pleaded not guilty to charges they sought to join Zazi in what prosecutors described as three "coordinated suicide bombing attacks" on Manhattan subway lines. The bombings were planned for the days after the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, authorities said.

Prosecutors say the attacks were modeled after the London transit system bombings in July 2005, when four suicide bombers killed 52 people and themselves in an attack on three subway trains and a bus.

The alleged New York plot was disrupted in early September when police officials stopped Zazi's car as it entered New York.

Last month, an Afghanistan-born imam linked to the suspects pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI when asked about the men. He was sentenced to time served and ordered to leave the United States.

Officials have said a fourth suspect is in custody in Pakistan, but have given no other details about him.

Minn. man charged with aiding suicides via the Web

Nadia Kajouji jumped into Ottawa's Rideau River following her disappearance in March 2008.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man has been charged with aiding the suicides of two people by encouraging them to kill themselves in Internet chats.

William Melchert-Dinkel of Faribault (FAIR-'boh) was charged Friday in Rice County, Minn., under a rarely used state law that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

He's been charged with two counts in the suicides of a Canadian woman and a British man. Mark Drybrough, of Coventry, England, hanged himself in 2005, and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji (kuh-JOOJ-ee) of Brampton, Ontario, drowned in Ottawa in 2008.

Melchert-Dinkel had been a nurse but was stripped of his license last year. His first court appearance is scheduled for May 25.

A message left at Melchert-Dinkel's home Friday wasn't immediately returned.

Spanish hospital claims first full face transplant

Obama Blasts Arizona Illegal Immigration Effort

This is pretty big: Obama just now sharply condemned the controversial anti-illegal immigration effort in Arizona, calling it “misguided” and “irresponsible” — and even said his administration could insert itself into the fight if civil rights are found to be violated.

This could cause the issue to heat up to full boil on the national level, with untold consequences for the midterm elections.

The effort in Arizona would require anyone suspected of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document” or other proof of citizenship. The Governor of Arizona is expected to decide within days how to act on the legislation — and Obama today pushed the issue hard.

“Our failure to act responsibly at the Federal level will only open the door to irresponsiblity by others,” Obama said. “That includes for example the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

Obama added that his administration could join the fight. “I’ve instructed members of my admininstration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation,” he said, adding that it was “misguided.”

The move comes amid signs that Dem leaders are moving forward more rapidly than expected with immigration reform, upending the political calculus of both parties heading into the midterms. By moving forward, Dems risk exacerbating the anger of the Tea Party brigade and alienating white swing voters, but they also energize a key portion of their base. The move also forces Republicans to choose between angering the Tea Partiers and alienating Latinos.

Obama has now pushed the Arizona issue to the front burner, perhaps forcing a more serious national conversation over it. Interesting.