Monday, December 18, 2006

An Astronaut's Chanukah Adventure

An Astronaut's Chanukah Adventure
Buckle up for a Chanukah celebration in... Space Shuttle Discovery! Astronaut Jeff Hoffman hosts the celebration courtesy of NASA.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Notes and quotes-Knicks Fight, Letter from Russell and new music links



When you look into the face of a young child in Africa, you should be able to see the future of a better world. Some may affirm it takes a village to raise a child. Yet for many reasons today in Africa, it takes a child with a good education, nutrition, health care and development opportunities to raise a village, a nation and a continent out of poverty and disease.

Respected African leaders like former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and President Festus Mogae of Botswana and many others have expressed concern about the current wave of misinformation in public discourse with respect to the issues of diamonds from Africa. In a letter to Warner Brothers and to "Blood Diamond" movie director Ed Zwick, Nelson Mandela cautioned, "It would be deeply regrettable if the making of the film inadvertently obscured the truth, and, as a result, led the world to believe that an appropriate response might be to cease buying mined diamonds from Africa." He added, "We hope that the desire to tell a gripping and important real life historical story will not result in the destabilization of African diamond producing countries, and, ultimately their peoples." We concur with Mr. Mandela.

It is unfortunate that old stereotypical images of an underdeveloped, self-destructive, savage Africa have been re-conjured up in the mindset of too many people by those who may be well intentioned but who, through their unmitigated zeal to make and market movies, documentaries, and other forms of media, inadvertently display a hurtful, counterproductive, irresponsible and less than accurate portrayal of the current reality of Africa. Despite this inaccurate interpretation, we welcome and are thankful for the opportunity for dialogue with all who are focused on this issue, especially human rights organizations, like Amnesty International.

Even in Sierra Leone today, the issue of diamonds and the stability of that economy is quite different and far more productive than what is displayed in the movie. Since Sierra Leone became a part of the Kimberley Process in 2003, revenues from diamonds in that country have increased 100%, helping to repair its tragic past. Our job is to help strengthen the Kimberley Process.

We are very strong defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression. And, we know with freedom comes responsibility. The objective of this open letter is to clarify the facts and be responsive and responsible in helping African people empower themselves. We all must be willing to support efforts and initiatives that can make a real difference toward ending poverty and disease in Africa. More than a handout, the people of Africa need a helping hand toward empowerment, trade and investment.

While completing a nine-day Simmons Jewelry Company fact-finding mission to southern Africa to see firsthand how diamonds are empowering Africans in Botswana and South Africa, we witnessed concrete examples of how the diamond industry directly enhances sustainable economic development and contributes to the overall self-empowerment of African people and communities. We first chose those places in Africa where there are stable democratic governments and the kind of government-private sector joint ventures that have a factual and transparent track record of improving the quality of life.

We were in search of a success model not only for the diamond industry but, eventually, for other extractive industries in Africa. We found that Botswana is the undisputed world model of African empowerment when it comes to the extraction, processing and production of diamonds. We visited thriving commercial training and production centers, as well as well-equipped public schools, hospitals, family care facilities, orphanages, and HIV/AIDS clinics, all financially supported throughout Botswana from diamond beneficiation. We were heartened by the positive developments we saw and we believe these effective measures can be the model for other countries in Africa that possess vast resources.

When we arrived back in the United States one week ago, we reported our findings of fact and announced the establishment of the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.(TM)).

As a nonprofit international organization, the mission of the D.E.F.(TM) is to raise money for the development and empowerment of people and communities in Africa where diamonds are a natural resource. We are in the jewelry and diamond business. We believe in corporate social responsibility. Out of this, The Simmons Jewelry Company launched the Green Initiative. The purpose of the Green Initiative is to raise funds for the D.E.F.(TM) Twenty-five percent of the net proceeds from the sale of Simmons Jewelry Company Green Initiative items go directly to the D.E.F.(TM)

During this holiday season of giving, we urge others in the diamond industry and all people of goodwill to give back more and work harder to help make a productive difference in Africa. Let's refrain from paternalistic arrogance and misinformed judgments about an entire continent that has been so blessed by God with an abundance of natural resources and great potential. Let's help them realize that potential. Our love for Africa is unconditional. Will you join us?

Russell Simmons and
Dr. Benjamin Chavis

Ahmet Ertegun, Founding Chairman of Atlantic Records

Audio-Video Room-New music and film

Hazmat Modine, Bahamut (Barbes Records)

Enseralen Gojo - Bole2Harlem’s New Ethiopian Style: The Melodic Rhymes and Beats of a Harlem Crew

"Traffic Jam" - Stephen Marley featuring Buju Banton and Damian Marley

"Like A Star" - Corinne Bailey Rae - video

-THE DEAD GIRL, the new film from acclaimed writer/director Karen Moncrieff (BLUE CAR), is a quintet of stories about seemingly unrelated people whose lives converge around the murder of a young woman. Check out the movie site here for the trailer!

-Alpha Dog
Inspired by true events, Alpha Dog follows three fateful days when the lives of a group of Southern California teens suddenly dead-ended. When the flashy, local drug dealer Johnny Truelove is double-crossed over missing deal money by raging hothead Jake, Johnny and his gang impulsively kidnap Jake's little brother, Zack, holding him as a marker and heading to Palm Springs.

Check the website here!

-Trick Daddy, Pitbull Spread Holiday Cheer Throughout Miami By EbenGregory–

The Trick Luvs Da Kids Foundation's 4th annual Christmas Toy Drive takes place tomorrow (Dec. 16) at Miami's Moore Park and Saturday, December 23rd at the city's Gould Park.

Looking for a holiday gift for that special music fan in your life? How about some new music from Kayaro Records? The newly formed independent record label has their first CD available on iTunes. The artist is Los Angeles singer/songwriter JhaVoice and the album is "Voice 2 Sing". Visit her MySpace page for more info and ordering instructions, show info and more.
Have a listen to the single, "Moonlight (You Say)" below!

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Knicks fight to a new low from Daily News

Knick excuses pile on shame

You can hear that punch!


John McCain’s War On Blogs
Internet service providers (ISPs) are already required to issue such reports, but under McCain’s legislation, bloggers with comment sections may face “even stiffer penalties” than ISPs.


Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu, bayamim haheim, (u)baz'man hazeh.

Translation: "Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors, in those days, at this season."

WHY KWANZA By Maulana Karenga

As an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense. Given the profound significance Kwanzaa has for African Americans and indeed, the world African community, it is imperative that an authoritative source and site be made available to give an accurate and expansive account of its origins, concepts, values, symbols and practice.this video is part of the bonus scenes from Owen 'Alik Shahadah award winning film 500 Years Later (, produced by M.K. Asante,Jr.