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Archive for April 12th, 2013

Chicago-area NATO arrestee reportedly pressured into guilty plea after spending 329 days in Cook County Jail

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — Mark Neiweem, a 28-year-old Chicago activist, pleaded guilty in Cook County Court yesterday to felony charges brought on by interactions with undercover Chicago police officers who had infiltrated activist groups prior to last May’s NATO protests. Neiweem pleaded guilty to a probation violation charge from a previous conviction and to solicitation and attempted possession of an explosive or incendiary device.

Neiweem, who had spent 329 continuous days in the appalling conditions of Cook County Jail while awaiting trial, will now serve out the remainder of a 3-year sentence in a state prison. He is expected to receive credit for time served and other reductions in the duration of his incarceration for good behavior.
“The politically motivated prosecution and abuse Mark suffered in Cook County Jail point to a degree of coordinated state repression and coercion which was physically and psychologically unbearable,” said Rachel Unterman of the NATO 5 Defense Committee. “Ultimately, Mark decided to end his ordeal and be transferred out of Cook County Jail by taking a non-cooperating plea deal.”

Neiweem faced two consecutive prison sentences as a result of his probation violation, which required a minimum of several years and for which he did not have the right to a jury trial. This charge stood separate from his NATO arrest charges of solicitation and attempted possession of an incendiary device. He was also routinely targeted by jail guards for abuse and mistreatment since last May.

“Mark was willing to tolerate far more abuse than could ever have been expected of him in order to stand up for his political and ethical beliefs,” Unterman said. “In the end, pleading guilty to receive concurrent rather than consecutive sentences was the only realistic and rational alternative he had.”

In the lead-up to the NATO protests last May, Neiweem was one of several activists specifically targeted by undercover police officers for his political views and as part of a larger effort to justify the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on police during the NATO summit. He was arrested suddenly and without explanation on May 17 of last year, pulled
into a black van and held in jail for three days without explanation, charges or a hearing. While he was initially given a $500,000 bond, this was revoked due to his probation violation, leaving him trapped in Cook County Jail pending trial.

While in jail, the police took advantage of a serious medical condition, putting his life at risk by denying him access to vital medication and forcing several trips to the hospital. Neiweem also encountered innumerable hardships and deprivation, including ever-present threats to his basic safety from other inmates, repeated physical assault by guards in the jail, being placed in solitary confinement multiple times, undergoing continual “lock-downs” on his floor, having his books and possessions destroyed by guards, and being prevented from buying basic necessities by guards who often made his commissary request-slips unreadable.

More information on Neiweem and the other defendants in the NATO 5 can be found at http://nato5support.wordpress.com, on Facebook at Free the NATO 5! (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-the-Nato/172345546229824), and on Twitter @FreeNATO5 (https://twitter.com/FreeNATO5).

New book guides Black men to lead extraordinary lives

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thousands credit author/coach with strengthening relationships, improving health, boosting careers/earning power and transforming their lives



CHICAGO, IL  (MelodyPR) - A young black man who went from the depths of despair to the highest peak of happiness credits his transformation to lessons learned that he shares in his book, Black Men Rock – 10 Keys to Empower Black Men to Live Extraordinary Lives.

Coach Michael Taylor, author, motivational speaker, radio and television host and life coach, was on a path to self-destruction after being divorced, in debt, homeless, bankrupt and experiencing depression. But, thanks to the strategies and tips contained in the book, he is now enjoying a fulfilling life, a rewarding ten-year marriage, excellent health, a promising career and prosperity. At the urging of thousands of men he’s guided to go from “victims to victors,” Taylor – better known as Coach Michael – is now sharing his secrets in the book.

Black Men Rock – 10 Keys to Empower Black Men to Live Extraordinary Lives is available online at www.blackmenrock.net, a resource that also contains inspiring messages and snippets from the book.

Told with clarity, candor, love, passion, humility and with raw honesty, Taylor shares his compelling story and the lessons he’s learned. He is a high school dropout who refused to succumb to the negative allure of street life. As a result of hard work and determination, he climbed the corporate ladder and became a successful mid-level manager for a multi-million dollar corporation at age 23. After his six-year marriage collapsed, his quest to achieve the American Dream came crashing down. The divorce upended his life: he lost everything and sank into a deep state of depression. Determined to reclaim his life, he spent 15 years in deep self-introspection and transformation. The self-taught Taylor mastered valuable lessons on this journey and achieved what is now an extraordinary life.

Eager to help other men become empowered, Coach Taylor shares valuable tips on how men can enjoy fulfilling relationships, robust physical health, rewarding careers and can manage the money that their newfound happiness brings them.

Coach Taylor says the book’s principles apply to all men, but especially to Black men because they face greater hurdles: “The book and website are designed specifically to address the unique emotional and psychological makeup of black men,” he says.

“This book provides a step-by-step blueprint on how black men can achieve their dream lives, ” he declares. He adds that in sharing his insights, he’s sparing other men from enduring the same pain and making the same mistakes.

He also praises and celebrates black men.

“Contrary to the negative media stereotypes,” observes Taylor, “black men are capable of being loving husbands and caring fathers. They are intelligent, thoughtful and insightful who, like all men, simply want to love and be loved and feel that their lives matter. As the title suggests, “Black Men Rock!”

He predicts the book will inspire Black men to “embrace challenges” as a way of building character.

Among the thousands whose lives have been transformed through Coach Michael Taylor’s counsel is an engineer from Seattle, Washington, who was on the hit list to lose his job. “Instead,” he declares, “Coach Michael Taylor gave me some valuable career tips that not only helped me save my job but led to me being promoted within six months.” He adds that the money-management advice the Coach has given has helped him attain financial stability because of his greater earnings.

Similarly, a Chicago construction worker lamented that his health was deteriorating until he talked to Coach Michael. “Through a few shifts in my lifestyle and attitude, I am now in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in!” he exclaims.

Even women hail Coach Michael. A teacher from Houston said her marriage was on the brink of divorce until her husband began communicating with Coach Michael Taylor. The outcome, she says, is nothing short of a miracle. “Today, the marriage is strong, happy and has created a healthy environment that has made our children happier. This renewed commitment has had a carryover effect into other aspects of their lives.”

The book is winning acclaim from a wide spectrum of critics. Melissa Brown Levine of the Independent Professional Book Reviewers has high praise for Black Men Rock… and for Taylor’s mission. “This book,” she says, “challenges the concept of traditional manhood in the African American community by encouraging black men to step outside of the box society has placed them in, and allow themselves to grow into the loving and productive people they are capable of being.”

Sportswriter and author Ahmard Vital sees it as a game changer and conversation starter. “Many of the issues concerning Black men are addressed within its pages. Michael Taylor has done the research and illustrates where Black men, and society as a whole, can utilize 10 key principles that will support men in living extraordinary lives and will bring about a global shift that will bring humans together in harmony. There will come a time when this will be the dominant conversation. Taylor is leading the charge.”

Coach Michael says the book is more than a resource, but the start of a “revolution.”

“My intention in sharing the lessons within its pages is to do my part in supporting black men. This book can be the spark in a revolution that challenges them to take 100% responsibility for their lives and to know that it is possible for them to live extraordinary lives.”

Having empowered thousands through his lectures and seminars, he is now committed to reaching a broader global audience through his website www.blackmenrock.net, online radio show (www.blogtalkradio.com/ancwm) and his recently-launched television program that airs on Houston Public Television (www.anewconversationwithmen.com).

With the release of Black Men Rock – 10 Keys to Empower Black Men to Live Extraordinary Lives, he says Black men have a permanent resource to turn to for lessons that will enhance their lives and help them attain success.

For more information, contact:

Melody M. McDowell
773-660-2001 – Office
312-371-8917 – cell


Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


A Reprint from The Sentencing Project
Marc Mauer’s Race to Incarcerate, first published in 1999, has become an essential text for understanding the exponential growth of the U.S. prison system and a canonical work for those active in the U.S. criminal justice reform movement.
Now, graphic artist Sabrina Jones has collaborated with Mauer to adapt and update the original text to produce Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling, a vivid and engaging comics narrative. Jones’s dramatic artwork adds passion and compassion to the complex story of four decades of prison expansion and its corrosive effect on generations of Americans and the implications for American democracy.
In the foreword, Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, calls the book “utterly indispensable” to the understanding of the human rights nightmare that mass incarceration is today.

If current trends continue, one of every three black males and one of every six Latino males born today can expect to find themselves in prison at some point of their lives. Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling, in this highly accessible format, chronicles the lives of those imprisoned and the fallout from a failed social policy.

With more than two million people now imprisoned, Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling is more essential than ever.

The book is published by The New Press and available from its catalogue and national booksellers.

Sabrina Jones is the author of Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography and a contributor to World War 3 Illustrated, Wobblies!, The Real Cost of Prisons, Studs Terkel’s Working (The New Press), FDR and the New Deal for Beginners, Yiddishkeit, and Radical Jesus.

Marc Mauer is the executive director of The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Race to Incarcerate, a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and the co-editor, with Meda Chesney-Lind, of Invisible Punishment (both available from The New Press).

Michelle Alexander is the author of the New York Times bestseller The New Jim Crow.

“Do not underestimate the power of the book you are holding in your hands.”
– Michelle Alexander

Jonathan Kozol, the writer and education activist, called it: “A tremendously disturbing and important book about the devastating increase in our prison population…the questions that it poses call for answers that too few of those in power have been brave enough to give.”

Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling is available to order from the following:

Black Economic Summit slated for May 31 – June 1, 2013 in Colorado

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux to keynote Luncheon

Denver, CO (BlackNews.com) — The Mountain Region Black Economic Summit has announced the 8th Annual MRBES Success Summit & Expo to be held on May 31 and June 1 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. The theme is “Inform, Inspire, Imagine!” 
The summit, which seeks to improve the economic standing of minority communities, is the only event of its kind in the mountain states. More than 750 people are expected to attend.

MRBES Executive Director Carla Ladd, who has forged unique collaborations for an information-packed summit, says, “We have booked highly-respected nonprofit and corporate professionals to facilitate a host of panels, workshops and seminars addressing topics from social media business etiquette to how to empower women for ministry.”

Key summit events feature collaborations with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated – Denver Chapter, Moneywise with Kelvin Boston and New Michigan Media (NMM).

This year, the Deltas play an instrumental role in helping MRBES to organize the summit’s signature event, WiLMA (Women in Leadership & Management Awards) Luncheon. Named in honor of former legislator and Denver’s first African American First Lady, the Hon. Wilma J. Webb, this premier networking luncheon honors several local women for their service and successes.

The luncheon keynote speaker is Dr. Julianne Malveaux, an economist, author and founder of Last Word Productions, Inc. The emcee is Denver Nuggets’ public address announcer, Kyle Speller.

Community Day (Saturday) of the summit features Kelvin Boston in a day-long Moneywise Empowerment Seminar along with author/educator Dennis Kimbro, Ph.D., and celebrity nutritionist/fitness specialist Robert Ferguson, MS, CN. Moneywise is considered public television’s longest running multi-cultural financial affairs series. To address the economic clout of ethnic media, Saturday also offers a session with Hayg Oshagan Ph.D., director of NMM, which represents a network of 100+ ethnic and minority media in the State of Michigan.

“We are employing as many tools as possible to bring awareness to economic health,” says Ladd.

For more information about the MRBES Success Summit & Expo and to register, visit http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001sdw52gfO6klYr2mZ9miHRR3SczOlTG-P1wAxeQhQTj9e7ncH9efTC_qbcW6oQUc-4tr2DkRumlRnvoSxeCbdhdeP0AfHUWvTDWs5yebAM3E=.


Established in 2005, Mountain Region Black Economic Summit, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, produces the annual economic summit and expo that brings together the various financial, business and human resources to stimulate learning and growth among Colorado’s minority communities.

Photo Caption: Dr. Julianne Malveaux

State Board of Education calls for full General State Aid Funding before Senate Appropriations Committee

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Senate Appropriations for Elementary and Secondary Education is the second of several hearings on FY 2014 P-12 state education budget


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Members of the Illinois State Board of Education urged legislators to accept the State Board’s recommendation for an $874 million increase in the P-12 state education budget in order to restore a nearly equal amount in cuts – $861 million – since Fiscal Year 2009. The cuts have meant underfunding the minimum per-pupil level set in state statute by legislators themselves, forcing districts to cut thousands of teachers, increase class sizes and reduce or eliminate physical education, fine arts and extracurricular activities.

“Education in Illinois at this point in time is really a Tale of Two Cities, the best of times and the worst of times,” State Board Chairman Gery J. Chico told committee members. “Never before have we seen the types of improvements occurring on local and state levels that are driving student growth, while at the same time districts across Illinois are struggling to keep the lights on and the doors open.”

Chairman Chico said the State Board’s recommendation would mean the state could fully fund General State Aid for the first time in three years, providing the legally-required per-pupil Foundation Level of $6,119 set as the `floor’ or minimum that schools should spend on the education of each student.  Because of inadequate state funding, districts have received prorated General State Aid at 89 percent of the statutorily-set Foundation level. That proration effectively decreases funding to an effective per-pupil Foundation Level of $5,734 this year, resulting in a subsequent shortfall of hundreds of thousands to several million dollars in lost state funding to local districts.

For more information see http://www.isbe.net/funding/pdf/gsa-historical.pdf and a district-by-district spreadsheet of the shortfall at http://www.isbe.net/budget/FY14/fy13-gsa-comparison.xlsx.

As a result, districts statewide have eliminated at least 6,400 teacher and aide positions, expanded class sizes, eliminated or reduced classes such as music, art and physical education and eliminated extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs. Two thirds of districts report they are deficit spending this school year, meaning they are spending more than they are taking in.

That reality contrasts sharply with what the Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) recommended earlier this year in a report to the General Assembly. EFAB, established by the General Assembly itself, uses a national funding formula that shows adequate funding for Illinois schools would mean an increase of $2,553 per pupil, raising the Foundation Level to $8,672 per pupil, or an additional $4.7 billion in total GSA funding.

The report points out that nearly half of all Illinois students are now classified as low income, noting the growth has taken place in all geographic regions of the state but most dramatically in the collar counties where districts saw a nearly 44 percent increase in their low-income population since Fiscal Year 2011.

The report states that while members of the EFAB recognize the state’s dire fiscal challenges, “the lack of adequate funding for basic education is a failure of the state’s moral and fiduciary responsibilities,” and the report goes on to urge the Governor and the General Assembly to work together to increase the resources available for public education in order to help children succeed in the 21st century global economy. A copy of the EFAB report can be found at http://www.isbe.net/EFAB/pdf/final-report-01-13.pdf.

Chairman Chico and State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch as well as Board Members Andrea Brown, a former Regional Superintendent and Superintendent of the Cairo Unit School District 1 and Melinda LaBarre, a former Springfield Public School District 186 teacher and principal, presented the Board’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request at Friday’s hearing. The Board’s full recommendation is posted on ISBE’s budget page at: http://www.isbe.net/budget/.

Superintendent Koch noted that as schools are dealing with the $861 million reduction in state funding, they have also received less funding from local tax revenue due to the recession and corresponding decline in assessed home values and assessed value limits imposed by the legislature. They are also facing federal cuts to take effect next school year under sequestration that will impact funding for several programs and services, primarily those that serve students from low-income families and those with disabilities.

“The impact isn’t just superficial cuts, the reduction means cuts to the classrooms,” Superintendent Koch told the committee. “It means cuts to services and to kids. It means not providing a high quality public education system for all students, as required in the Constitution.”

State cuts have meant that during the past four years more than a dozen line items have been reduced from the state’s P-12 education budget and another three dozen line items have been totally eliminated during that time. Meanwhile, districts have been asked to implement new state initiatives, such as the more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards and new principal and teacher evaluations.

In addition to the increase in General State Aid funding, the Board is asking for $20 million as districts look to strengthen their existing plans and security measures in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Connecticut. The matching grant program would provide approximately $5,000 per school in a matching grant program for FY14 to help school districts improve school building security.

Friday’s hearing was the second of several before lawmakers as the General Assembly develops a final FY 2014 budget to go before the Governor in the summer of 2013.

Madigan: House unanimously passes Bill to strengthen sentencing for child pornography offenders

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL  – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today praised the House of Representatives for its unanimous vote in support of legislation that will help strengthen prosecutors’ efforts to protect children from pornographers.

House Bill 2647, which was sponsored by Rep. Emily McAsey and drafted in conjunction with Madigan’s office, seeks to clarify current Illinois law to allow prosecuting attorneys to charge suspects for each individual item of alleged child pornography in their possession. The bill would be in line with other statutes that allow for multiple convictions for “single and separate” violations involving controlled substances or deadly weapons, for example. Sen. John G. Mulroe will sponsor the measure in the Senate.
“Child pornography is an unspeakable crime that has very real consequences. Every time an image of an infant or toddler being raped is viewed, it perpetuates the initial crime, further scarring these young, innocent victims,” Madigan said. “This legislation will ensure that law enforcement has the most effective tools at its disposal to put away these despicable offenders for years to come.”

“This clarification in the law will provide prosecutors another tool as they work to crack down on dangerous predators in possession of child pornography,” said Rep. McAsey. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with Attorney General Madigan and remain committed to strengthening Illinois law to protect our children from victimization.”

Madigan also stressed the importance of HB 2647 in light of the consecutive sentencing model that her office helped draft and was enacted last year that directs courts to impose longer mandatory consecutive, rather than concurrent, sentences for child pornography-related offenses.

In addition to her legislative efforts to combat child pornography, Madigan conducts “Operation Glass House,” an ongoing statewide initiative to apprehend the most active child pornography traders in Illinois. In the first year of Operation Glass House, Madigan’s investigations revealed a disturbing trend of offenders trading extremely violent videos of young children being raped. As a result, Operation Glass House has focused on apprehending offenders who are seen trading and watching extremely violent videos involving children, including infants and toddlers.

Madigan’s office, with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, also runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, which investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement agencies. Since 2006, Madigan’s ICAC task force has been involved in 552 arrests of sexual predators. The task force has also provided Internet safety training and education to more than 286,000 parents, teachers and students and 16,258 law enforcement professionals. Currently, 182 agencies are affiliated with the Illinois ICAC.


As North Korea talks economy, ‘West talks of war’

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

As North Korea Talks Economy, ‘West Talks of War’

New America Media

By Peter Schurmann


SAN FRANCISCO — In the mounting war of words North Korea is having with the United States and its allies, it’s easy to believe who the chief aggressor is. A bankrupt dictatorship more interested in arming itself than feeding its populace can hardly expect a sympathetic audience.

Yet signals coming from inside the communist nation – via headlines, reporters, tourists and business people alike – are turning that picture on its head.

An April 5 piece by historian James Pearson that appeared on the site NK News.org notes that as world headlines continue to beat the drums of war with North Korea, the country’s largest daily newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, is “sending out quite a different message.”

What’s that message?

Brian Myers, an expert on North Korean propaganda, told the Wall Street Journal, “The party daily has been calling for economic growth as always, and factories and farms appear on the TV news before the announcers launch into anti-U.S. and anti-South Korean rhetoric.”

Last week’s appointment of Pak Pong Ju as the new premier of the North Korean cabinet adds further credence to the notion that the heated rhetoric out of Pyongyang may be tied to a push by the nation’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, to invigorate the North’s moribund economy. Pak is known to be a supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms.

According to NK News.org, four of the past five front-page headlines in the Rodong Sinmun explicitly call for economic strengthening as part of a larger policy known as byungjin, a term signifying military and economic security–including the development of a robust “nuclear deterrence.”

Compare that to the litany of alarmist language daily seeping from mainstream media outlets across the globe. “Northeast Asia on Edge Ahead of Possible North Korean Missile Test,” declares CNN. The New York Daily News quoted former Vice President Dick Cheney stating that because Kim Jong Un “does not share our world view … we’re in deep doo doo.”

In South Korea, the media message is the same, despite the collective yawn elicited on the street. Residents are fed a daily diet of everything from North Korean “terrorist attacks” to cyber security breaches.

Swiss entrepreneur Felix Abt, who has spent the past seven years working in North Korea, summed up the contrast in the following tweet: “Warmongers in the West? Western Papers Discuss War, North Korean Papers Discuss Economy.”

Abt, who has run financial training programs for bankers with North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, told Reuters the push to tighten sanctions could threaten humanitarian agencies working in the country.” The sanctions, he said, would be a “huge setback for economic development” in North Korea, forcing aid agencies to use “cash couriers or other funny methods” to continue their work.

Although the North Korean threat may be exaggerated, the fear certainly isn’t. A piece in the Korean-language Korea Daily noted that visitors to the South have fallen steadily, with Korean Air seeing a 6 percent decline in reservations from the same time last year.

Last week, a group of 500 Chinese tourists cancelled plans to take a ferry from the Chinese city of Qingdao to the South Korean port of Incheon.

In response, Seoul’s Ministry of Tourism is working overtime to convey another message: Things here are “secure.” Reports that acclaimed singer Psy, of “Gangnam Style” fame, may be preparing to release another single might help.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reporter Jean Lee tweeted recently that there is “zero panic on the streets of Pyongyang.” According to a story by Lee, tourists are still arriving in the North Korean capital for the April 15 commemoration of state founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday, such as biomedical engineer Australian Mark Fahey, who shrugged off the likelihood of war as “pretty unlikely.”

“Downtown,” Lee wrote, “schoolchildren marched toward the towering statues of the two late leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, dragging brooms to sweep the hilltop plaza … Women with coats thrown over traditional dresses rushed through the spring chill after leaving a rehearsal for a dance planned for Kim Il Sung’s birthday celebrations.”

While that’s hardly the image of a nation preparing for war, the question of objectives remains paramount, as the world attempts to glean clues as to Pyongyang’s motivation.

For North Korea scholar Bruce Cumings, the more pertinent question might be: What exactly does Washington want?

Writing for The Nation, Cumings argues Pyongyang’s intent is threefold: to pressure South Korea’s new president, Park Geun Hye, to reverse her predecessors hard-line stand, to challenge Obama’s “strategic patience” approach, and to present China with the choice of backing sanctions at the risk of more instability or maintaining its posture of support, however begrudging.

As for Washington, Cumings is more blunt. “Now comes Barack Obama with his ‘pivot to Asia,’ bringing new U.S. bases and force-projections to the task of containing China—while denying any such purpose.”

The journal Foreign Policy reported Wednesday that Obama’s latest budget proposal
calls for stepping up spending in nuclear arms development while cutting down on non-proliferation programs. That plan only reinforces the perception, at least from Beijing and Pyongyang, that the U.S. position may be less than benign, and certainly far from defensive.

Peter Schurmann is an editor with New America Media. Before coming to the Bay Area, he spent three years as a reporter and editor in Seoul, South Korea.

First African American Ice Swimming Championship to be held in Uganda

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Ice Swimming at the Equator  

As a part of the “Painting the City Bright” project, the first African Ice Swimming Championship will be held on May 11, 2013 in Jinja, Uganda
Jinja, Uganda/ SkellefteÃ¥, Sweden (BlackNews.com) — On May 11, 2013, history will be written in the Ugandan town of Jinja, when the first African Ice Swimming Championship is arranged. Jinja residents received inspiration for this from the city of SkellefteÃ¥ in Northern Sweden, where over the past two years the Swedish and Scandinavian Winter Swim champi-onships in have been arranged and hosted. “In order to succeed in implementing this spectacu-lar event, we will fill a swimming pool with about 50 tons of ice,” says Jinja’s Mayor, Mo-hammed Baswari Kezaala Al-Hajji.
When the first Swedish Championship in winter swimming was conducted in SkellefteÃ¥ in 2012, the air temperature was -34° C degrees; however in Jinja, it is anticipated that temperature can be as high as +35° C during the competition. “[It’s] a huge contrast be-tween the polar cold and the oppressive heat at the equator,” says Mohammed Baswari Kezaala Al-Hajji.
The championship will take place at the swimming pool in Jinja’s Nile Resort. The process of lowering the temperature of the water to +10° C or less requires a supply of large quantities of ice. “A local ice company here that the finishing industry uses to cool the day’s catch from Lake Victoria will help us with that,” says Craig Dixon, chief officer of Knights of the North, AB as well as executive producer of the Big Steve from England project. The Big Steve from England team together with the association of The Happy Friends of Cold and Darkness are co-organizers of the competition. The city of Jinja, the Metro Green company, and the Uganda Swimming Federation are also involved in organizing for the championship.
Mayor first into the ice pool
On March 11th, Jinja residents did a test run in preparation for the actual competition. A lane on the main street in the city was closed off and a pool filled with ice water was placed. The temperature was +1° C. The Mayor of Jinja was first into the water. “What a lovely experience! I felt immense joy when I stepped out,” says Mayor Kezaala Al-Hajji. When bathing in cold water, endorphins are released resulting in an energy boost. Studies conducted in Finland have shown that ice is a pure cure. Suomen Latu, the great out-doors organization to which most Finnish winter swimming unions are affiliated, claims that other health benefits are winter bathing, as well:
• Better tolerance to cold
• Fewer colds
• Relief from minor aches and pains
• Improved circulation
• Lower blood pressure
• Reduced stress
• Improved sleep
“Winter Swimming is suitable for most, but if you have a heart or circulatory disease one should consult their doctor before starting winter swimming,” says Lars Westerlund, president of the Happy Friends of Cold and Darkness.
As an added precaution and to avoid unnecessary risks, all participants in the African ice swimming championship will be subject to medical pre screening.
Painting the City Bright
The African Ice Swimming Championship is the first part of a major effort, which the town of Jinja town is doing in May in collaboration with SkellefteÃ¥’s YouTube star, “Big Steve from England” at the head. The project, dubbed “Painting the City Bright,” is to bring worldwide attention to the city of Jinja, Uganda’s second largest city as well as the source of the Nile.
The program officially begins with a relay from Jinja to Skellefteå, where glass bottles shaped like fish and hippos (filled with water from the source of the Nile) are to be carried along the Nile, the Mediterranean, and through Europe up to Skellefteå.
The main event takes place May 17th and 18th when nearly a thousand attendees will grab brushes and go out to paint cheerful colors on the 66 houses on Main Street in Jinja. The event will also include carnival festivities, musicians, dancers, and a host of other performers. More information on these events can be found at http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001DOP6gpkbfchPHL_xJuK8QSu3-PvC_aRTskzHxDijspUqFXH6JWgaWc_Pp6rJWnBPcVhMGCzfYxtolndzg9AJVpIR7BnU9_XBvtdB9JeEgDkvmU6UjYI-H5P8N8B3tD86.

49th Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards to present Journalist Walter Jacobson with “Chicago Legend” Award

Posted by Newsroom On April - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS


CHICAGO, IL – Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival announced that the 49th Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards Gala will take place on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, hosted by Jeanne Sparrow and Melissa Forman, the team from You & Me This Morning on WCIU.
As part of the event, journalist Walter Jacobson will be presented with a Chicago Legend Award. Jacobson has been an invaluable presence in Chicago television for fifty years. From WBBM to WFLD and back, he has captivated generations of audiences with his passion and unique perspectives. And, of course, his legendary partnership with Bill Kurtis is a totem of Chicago journalism history.
The Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards is an annual international television competition culminating in an Awards Ceremony that honors the best TV commercials and television productions from around the world. Included in the evening program are the presentations of Commitment to Excellence Awards to individuals or companies that have had a lasting impact on the medium of television.
The evening includes a cocktail reception with savory hors d’oeuvres, followed by the Awards Ceremony in the main ballroom. Video clips from the winning productions will be screened along with surprise guests from the industry. Tickets are $75/person and are now available at www.chicagofilmfestival.com. 8-person tables are also available.
Recent competition winners include: American Masters, Criminal Minds, Law & Order, and many others. Television commercials winners include: Allstate, Audi, Bud Light, McDonald’s, Mercedes- Benz, among others. Commitment to Excellence Award recipients include: Kelsey Grammer, OPTIMUS, FRONTLINE, Bill Kurtis, WTTW, Carol Marin, and Ruth Ratny.
The 49th Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards is presented by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival. Led by Major Partners American Airlines, DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media, and Optimus; Evening partners include Stella Artois, Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, WTTW11, Screen Magazine, ReelChicago and Shutterbox Entertainment.


About Cinema/Chicago                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Cinema/Chicago is a not-for-profit cultural and education organization dedicated to encouraging better understanding between cultures and to making a positive contribution to the art form of the moving image. The Television Awards is part of the year-round programs presented by Cinema/Chicago, which also include the Chicago International Film Festival, CineYouth Festival, Intercom Competition, International Summer Screenings Program, Black Perspectives and Educational Outreach.


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