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  • The Game Ordered to Pay Up in $91,000 Jewelry Case

    The Game loses another case this time for $90,999 after the rapper allegedly failed to pay for some expensive custom jewelry he commissioned over three years ago.

    An L.A. judge handed the order down last week demanding Game real name Jayceon Taylor settle his astronomical balance with jewelry company Lemmerman’s Inc. stat.

    According to the original complaint filed in L.A. last year Game ordered the following from 2007-2008:

    - a 14K white gold 36″ chain with white stones for $15,000

    - a 14K yellow gold 36″ chain with yellow stones for $15,000

    - a diamond stud for $4,000

    - a 14K white gold 5-row bracelet for $17,500

    - a 14K yellow gold 5-row bracelet for $17,500

    - two other gold “pieces” for $30,000

    Lemmerman’s claims Game paid off some of the jewelry a few years ago, he hasn’t made a payment since since and now owes the balance plus interest.

    Read more »
  • Lil Wayne’s Thief Just Wanted to Hang Out

    Lil Wayne’s Thief Just Wanted to Hang Out

    If you recall, the “leave behind” was one of George Costanza’s patented techniques for securing a second date; he’d “accidentally” leave a personal item at a woman’s house in hopes that he could use it as leverage to see her again. It seems as thought the guy who robbed Lil Wayne was really taking a page from the book of Costanza.  20-year-old Marcus Negrete, the man who has allegedly stolen items he found when he broke into the set of a Li’l Wayne music video apparently only stole the things because he thought he’d be able to return the items to Lil Wayne in person later and have some face time with the rapper.

    lil wayne1 525x417 Lil Waynes Thief Just Wanted to Hang Out

    Aww, poor guy. Just wanted some alone time with his favorite be-tear-tattoed rapper, that’s all.  Among the booty he swiped from the set were a laptop, a Louis Vuitton purse, a wallet, and a pair of NBA All-Star tickets.  In an ironic twist (not unlike an episode of  Seinfeld), the items didn’t even actually belong to Weezy, and the GPS sensor in the laptop led cops immediately to Negrete, who, for some reason, has plead “not guilty” to the charges.

    lil wayne robbed 525x669 Lil Waynes Thief Just Wanted to Hang Out

    Apparently, the 20-year old didn’t really consider the fact that legal charges might be brought against him, but hopefully he’s learned his lesson.  We’re guessing he won’t be sitting down to brunch with Lil Wayne anytime soon, but maybe the rapper’ll take pity on him and visit him in jail.

    Read more »
  • About Republic of Cape Verde

    Official Name:
    Republic of Cape Verde


    Area: 4,033 sq. km. (1,557 sq. mi.), slightly larger than Rhode Island.
    Cities: Capital--Praia (pop. 200,000 est.). Other city--Mindelo (pop. 67,844 est.).
    Terrain: Steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic.
    Climate: Temperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meager and erratic.

    Nationality: Noun and adjective--Cape Verdean(s).
    Population (2009 forecast): 506,000.
    Annual population growth rate (2008 est.): 1.41%.
    Ethnic groups: Creole (mixed African and Portuguese) 71%, African 28%, European 1%.
    Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant.
    Languages: Portuguese (official); Cape Verdean Creole (national).
    Education: Literacy (2008)--77%.
    Health: Infant mortality rate (2008)--24.8/1,000. Life expectancy (2008)--72.5 yrs.

    Type: Republic.
    Independence: July 5, 1975.
    Constitution: 1980; revised 1992, 1995, 1999, and 2010.
    Branches: Executive--president (head of state), prime minister (head of government), Council of Ministers. Legislative--National Assembly. Judicial--Supreme Court, lower courts.
    Administrative subdivisions: 17 administrative districts.
    Political parties: African Party for Independence of Cape Verde or PAICV [Jose Maria Pereira NEVES, chairman]; Democratic and Independent Cape Verdean Union or UCID [Antonio MONTEIRO]; Movement for Democracy or MPD [Carlos VEIGA].
    Suffrage: Universal over 18.

    GDP (2009 forecast): $1.909 billion.
    GDP per capita (2009 forecast): $3,770.
    Real GDP growth rate (2009 forecast): 4%.
    Inflation (2009 forecast): 3.5%.
    Natural resources: Salt, pozzolana, limestone, fish, shellfish.
    Agriculture: Products--bananas, corn, beans, sugarcane, coffee, fruits, vegetables, livestock products.
    Industry: Types--fish and fish products, clothing, shoes, beverages, salt, construction, building materials, ship repair, furniture, metal products, tourism.
    Trade (2009): Exports--$36.7 million: re-exported fuel, fish and crustaceans, clothing, shoes and shoe parts. Imports--$746.3 million: consumer goods, intermediary goods, capital goods, petroleum. Major trading partners, exports--Spain 62%, Portugal 34%, France 3%, United States 1%. Major trading partners, imports--Portugal 48%, Netherlands 17%, Spain 10%, Brazil 4%, Germany 2%.
    Fiscal year: Calendar year.
    Currency: Escudo (CVEsc 79 = $1 as of February 2010), which is pegged to the Euro.
    Economic aid received: $161 million (2005). Largest donors--Portugal ($43 million); European Union ($22 million); World Bank-IDA ($21 million); Luxembourg ($15 million); Netherlands ($10 million); the United States (more than $110 million).

    The Cape Verde Islands are located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean some 450 kilometers (about 300 mi.) off the west coast of Africa. The archipelago includes 10 islands and 5 islets, divided into the windward (Barlavento) and leeward (Sotavento) groups. The main islands in the Barlavento group are Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolau, Sal, and Boa Vista; those of the Sotavento group include Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. All islands but Santa Luzia are inhabited.

    Three islands--Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio--generally are level and very dry. Mountains higher than 1,280 meters (4,200 ft.) are found on Santiago, Fogo, Santo Antao, and Sao Nicolau.

    Sand carried by high winds has created spectacular rock formations on all islands, especially the windward ones. Sheer, jagged cliffs rise from the sea on several of the mountainous islands. Natural vegetation is sparse in the uplands and coast, but interior valleys support denser growth.

    Rainfall is irregular, and the archipelago suffers periodic droughts and consequent food shortages. The average precipitation per year in Praia is 24 centimeters (9.5 in.). During the winter, storms blowing from the Sahara sometimes cloud the sky, but sunny days are the norm year round.

    The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the Portuguese discovered the islands in 1456. Enslaved Africans were brought to the islands to work on Portuguese plantations. They were joined by entrepreneurs and refugees fleeing religious persecution in Europe, leading to a rich cultural and ethnic mix. The influence of African culture is most pronounced on the island of Santiago, where a little less than half the population resides. Sparse rain and few natural resources historically have induced Cape Verdeans to emigrate. It is believed that of the more than 1 million individuals of Cape Verdean ancestry, fewer than half actually live on the islands. Some 500,000 people of Cape Verdean ancestry live in the United States, mainly in New England. Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, France, Senegal, and Sao Tome and Principe also have large communities.

    The official language is Portuguese, but Cape Verdeans also speak Cape Verdean Creole--which is based on archaic Portuguese but influenced by African and European languages. Cape Verde has a rich tradition of Cape Verdean Creole literature and music.

    In 1462, Portuguese settlers arrived at Santiago and founded Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha)--the first permanent European settlement city in the tropics. In the 16th century, the archipelago prospered from the transatlantic slave trade. Pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements. Sir Francis Drake sacked Ribeira Grande in 1585. After a French attack in 1712, the city declined in importance relative to Praia, which became the capital in 1770.

    With the decline in the slave trade, Cape Verde's early prosperity slowly vanished. However, the islands' position astride mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made Cape Verde an ideal location for re-supplying ships. Because of its excellent harbor, Mindelo (on the island of Sao Vicente) became an important commercial center during the 19th century.

    Portugal changed Cape Verde's status from a colony to an overseas province in 1951 in an attempt to blunt growing nationalism. Nevertheless, in 1956, Amilcar Cabral, a Cape Verdean, and a group of Cape Verdeans and Guinea-Bissauans organized (in Guinea-Bissau) the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which demanded improvement in economic, social, and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea and formed the basis of the two nations' independence movement. Moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal in 1961. Acts of sabotage eventually grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 Soviet bloc-supported PAIGC soldiers against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops.

    By 1972, the PAIGC controlled much of Portuguese Guinea despite the presence of the Portuguese troops, but the organization did not attempt to disrupt Portuguese control in Cape Verde. Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence in 1974. Following the April 1974 revolution in Portugal, the PAIGC became an active political movement in Cape Verde. In December 1974, the PAIGC and Portugal signed an agreement providing for a transitional government composed of Portuguese and Cape Verdeans. On June 30, 1975, Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly, which received the instruments of independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.

    Immediately following the November 1980 coup in Guinea-Bissau, relations between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau became strained. Cape Verde abandoned its hope for unity with Guinea-Bissau and formed the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). Problems have since been resolved, and relations between the countries are good. The PAICV and its predecessor established a one-party system and ruled Cape Verde from independence until 1990.

    Responding to growing pressure for pluralistic democracy, the PAICV called an emergency congress in February 1990 to discuss proposed constitutional changes to end one-party rule. Opposition groups came together to form the Movement for Democracy (MPD) in Praia in April 1990. Together, they campaigned for the right to contest the presidential election scheduled for December 1990. The one-party state was abolished September 28, 1990, and the first multi-party elections were held in January 1991. The MPD won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, and MPD presidential candidate Mascarenhas Monteiro defeated the PAICV's candidate with 73.5% of the votes. Legislative elections in December 1995 increased the MPD majority in the National Assembly. The party won 50 of the National Assembly's 72 seats. A February 1996 presidential election returned President Mascarenhas Monteiro to office.

    Legislative elections in January 2001 returned power to the PAICV, with the PAICV holding 40 of the National Assembly seats, MPD 30, and Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD) and Party for Labor and Solidarity (PTS) 1 each. In February 2001, the PAICV-supported presidential candidate Pedro Pires defeated former MPD leader Carlos Veiga by only 12 votes. The PAICV won again in legislative elections in January 2006, with 41 seats for the PAICV, 29 for the MPD, and 2 for the UCID (Cape Verdean Independent and Democratic Union). Pedro Pires, supported by the PAICV, won the presidential election again in 2006.

    The Cape Verde constitution--adopted in 1980 and revised in 1992, 1995, and 1999, 2009, and 2010--forms the basis of government. The president is head of state and is elected by popular vote for a 5-year term. The prime minister is head of government and proposes other ministers and secretaries of state. The prime minister is nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the president. Members of the National Assembly are elected by popular vote for 5-year terms.

    Cape Verde enjoys a stable democratic system. The Movement for Democracy (MPD) captured a governing majority in the National Assembly in the country's first multi-party general elections in 1991. The MPD was returned to power with a larger majority in the general elections held in December 1995. In 2001 legislative elections, the PAICV regained power. Nationwide municipal elections were held March 21, 2004.

    In January 2006, Cape Verde held a successful round of parliamentary elections, followed by successful presidential elections on February 12, 2006. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) judged both elections free and fair. The leading parliamentary opposition party filed a court case in an attempt to overrule the NEC on the grounds of alleged fraud; this action ultimately failed. Three parties now hold seats in the National Assembly--PAICV 41, MPD 29, and Cape Verdean Independent Democratic Union (UCID) 2. Municipal elections were held in May 2008, with the Movement for Democracy party taking many of the seats within the municipalities. The next round of parliamentary elections will occur February 6, 2011, followed by presidential elections before August 6, 2011.

    The judicial system is comprised of a Supreme Court of Justice--whose members are appointed by the president, the National Assembly, and the Board of the Judiciary--and regional courts. Separate courts hear civil, constitutional, and criminal cases. Appeal is to the Supreme Court.

    Principal Government Officials
    President--Pedro Verona Pires
    Prime Minister--Jose Maria Neves
    President of the National Assembly--Aristides Lima
    Minister of Foreign Affairs--Jose Brito
    Defense Minister--Maria Cristina Lopes Almeida Fontes Lima
    Ambassador to the United States--Fatima Lima Veiga
    Ambassador to the United Nations--Antonio Lima
    Consul General to the United States (Boston)--Pedro Graciano Gomes de Carvalho

    Cape Verde maintains an embassy in the United States at 3415 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20007 (tel. 202-965-6820) and one consulate at 607 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02116 (tel. 617-353-0014).

    Cape Verde has few natural resources and suffers from poor rainfall and limited fresh water. Only 4 of the 10 main islands (Santiago, Santo Antao, Fogo, and Brava) normally support significant agricultural production, and over 90% of all food consumed in Cape Verde is imported. Mineral resources include salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), and limestone.

    The economy of Cape Verde is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, agriculture and fishing contribute only about 9% of GDP. Light manufacturing accounts for most of the remainder. An amount estimated at about 20% of GDP is contributed to the domestic economy through remittances from expatriate Cape Verdeans.

    Since 1991, the government has pursued market-oriented economic policies, including an open welcome to foreign investors and a far-reaching privatization program. It established as top development priorities the promotion of market economy and of the private sector; the development of tourism, light manufacturing industries, and fisheries; and the development of transport, communications, and energy facilities. From 1994 to 2000 there was a total of about $407 million in foreign investments made or planned, of which 58% were in tourism, 17% in industry, 4% in infrastructure, and 21% in fisheries and services.

    Fish and shellfish are plentiful, and small quantities are exported. Cape Verde has cold storage and freezing facilities and fish processing plants in Mindelo, Praia, and on Sal.

    Cape Verde's strategic location at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea lanes has been enhanced by significant improvements at Mindelo's harbor (Porto Grande) and Praia’s harbor, and at Sal's and Praia's international airports. New international airports were opened in Boa Vista (December 2007) and Sao Vicente (December 2009). Ship repair facilities at Mindelo were opened in 1983. The major ports are Mindelo and Praia, but all other islands have smaller port facilities. In addition to the international airport on Sal, airports have been built on all of the inhabited islands, although the airports on Brava and Santo Antao are now closed. All other airports enjoy scheduled air service. The archipelago has 3,050 kilometers (1,830 mi.) of roads, of which 1,010 kilometers (606 mi.) are paved, most using cobblestone.

    The Government of Cape Verde has launched an ambitious plan to reduce the country's dependence on imported fossil fuels through increased energy production from renewable resources. Through private-sector investment and government-supported projects, Cape Verde intends to generate at least 50% of electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020, up from the current level of 3.2%.

    Future prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, outsourcing labor to neighboring African countries, and the momentum of the government's development program.

    On November 22, 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 15-month Policy Support Instrument (PSI) to consolidate macroeconomic stability, maintain fiscal discipline, and achieve sustained growth for Cape Verde. The PSI is designed for countries that may not need IMF financial assistance, but still seek IMF advice, monitoring, and endorsement of their policy frameworks based on country-owned poverty reduction strategies adopted in a participatory process involving civil society and development partners.

    Cape Verde pursues a nonaligned foreign policy and seeks cooperative relations with all states. Angola, Brazil, China, Cuba, France, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Spain, and the United States maintain embassies in Praia. Several others, mostly European countries, maintain honorary consulates. In addition, Cape Verde maintains multilateral relations with other Lusophone nations and holds membership in many international organizations. On July 23, 2008, Cape Verde became the 153rd member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), in hopes of opening its markets for imported goods and services.

    The cordial relations between the United States and Cape Verde have strong historical roots. In the early 18th century, U.S. whaling ships appear to have begun recruiting crews from Brava and Fogo to hunt whales that were abundant in the waters surrounding Cape Verde. Ties between the American colonies and Cape Verde are documented as early as the 1740s, when American ships routinely anchored in Cape Verdean ports to trade for salt or buy slaves. The tradition of emigration to the United States began at that time and continues today. The first U.S. consulate in sub-Saharan Africa was established in Cape Verde in 1818. U.S. consular representation continued throughout the 19th century. The United States recognized Cape Verde on its independence day and supported its admission to the United Nations. Cape Verde assigned one of its first ambassadors to the United States, and a resident U.S. ambassador was posted to Cape Verde in 1983. Prime Minister Neves visited Cape Verdean communities in New England during an official trip to the United States in 2002, and President Pires visited the United States in April 2005. Prime Minister Neves also visited the U.S. in September 2007. In August 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Sal Island in Cape Verde and met with Prime Minister Neves.

    The United States provided emergency humanitarian aid and economic assistance to Cape Verde in the period immediately following Cape Verde's independence, as well as after natural disasters, including a hurricane that struck the island of Brava in 1982, after a severe volcanic eruption on Fogo in 1995, after deadly flooding in Sao Nicolau in 2009, and in the wake of a dengue fever epidemic in 2009. Cape Verde also is eligible for trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and has signed an Open Skies agreement to facilitate air travel safety and expansion. On July 4, 2005, Cape Verde became the third country to sign a Compact with the U.S. Government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC); the 5-year assistance package was worth over $110 million. On October 15, 2010, Cape Verde became the first country in Africa to complete its Compact, and did so on time, within budget, and achieving all of its targets for strengthening the investment climate, reforming the financial sector, improving infrastructure, increasing agricultural productivity, and achieving key policy reforms. On December 9, 2009, it became the first nation to be found eligible for a second Compact, currently under development.

    Principal U.S. Officials
    Charge d'Affaires--Dana Brown
    Consul--Robert Dahlke
    Political/Economic/Public Diplomacy Officer--Michael Ralles

    The U.S. Embassy in Cape Verde is at Rua Abilio Macedo, 6, Praia; C.P.201, tel. (238) 260 8900, fax 2611 355.

    The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all countries and includes information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

    For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at For additional information on international travel, see

    The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

    Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

    The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

    Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web site at give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. The CDC publication "Health Information for International Travel" can be found at

    Further Electronic Information
    Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

    Read more »
  • Gucci Mane Gets New Ice Cream Face Tattoo

    Gucci Mane was recently released from a mental institution and to celebrate his freedom the So Icey rapper went and got a face tattoo of an ice-cream cone.

    Covering his entire right cheek, Gucci's latest ink -- done by Atlanta's Tenth Street Tattoo owner Shane Willoughby, who twitpic'ed the above photo -- is an oversized ice-cream cone with three scoops of ice-cream highlighted with blue ink, the word "Brrr" across it and lightning bolts coming out of it. *Blank stare*

    What do you guys think of Gucci's new tat? Is it alright to rep your company this hard? Or should he go back to the asylum for this one? Leave your comments. Read more »
  • American Caboverdeano: The Life and Times of a Cape Verdean Activist

    On July 5, 1975 the New York Times ran a small article on the front page announcing the Independence of the Republic of Cape Verde. Upon reading that article, I began my journey as a Cape Verdean American. I began to recognize my heritage in a major way and, with great pride, I adopted the attitude of a Cape Verdean American. Although I knew I was of Cape Verdean heritage, I had always identified publicly as a black American of black Portuguese heritage because Cape Verdeans were virtually unknown. Now I had a nation of my heritage that was part of the larger international community, and it was a great feeling. I had come home! In 1980, I made my first visit to Cape Verde. I left the United States as a “Cape Verdean American,” but I returned as an “American Caboverdeano.” I was changed. The trip caused me to realize for the first time how much I had inherited the personality and culture of Cape Verde during the course of my lifetime. Years later, in 2009, I was awarded the honor of a school named for me in New Jersey: the “Edward Andrade School of Social Change.” I mentioned to a friend how humbled I was with the honor, and she said, “You have a legacy!” It was an unexpected comment. As I thought about it, I happened to see an old photo of me at age five. Looking at that photo, I wondered how I could have achieved any sort of legacy from where I started; therefore, it made me think of my past. Reviewing my life’s seventy-five years of experiences, I realized that as the child of first generation Cape Verdean Americans, raised by my immigrant grandparents, I had a beginning with no expectations, with no plans for a future, with few career options, and with limited opportunities. Yet, I became involved in extraordinary adventures; I benefited greatly from significant relationships; I reached an acceptable level of education; I achieved substantial public recognition; overall, I learned to make my way in a society that prizes individual effort; and, taking everything into consideration, I have led a unique life of noteworthy accomplishments. I realized that my legacy, if I have one, is not a school named for me but instead it is my life story – above all, my life as an activist. My story begins in a segregated, working class, ethnic (Cape Verdean) Massachusetts community and, thus far, brings me to a diverse, middle class, “Posh” coastal Florida town. But, it’s not a tale of class differences or financial standings; it’s about the unexpected, the unpredicted, and the “Who would have guessed?” Many life-stories tell about going from a “Log Cabin” to the greatest heights in politics or in business, but my story fits in between those extremes; it’s about a common man of Cape Verdean heritage – a Caboverdeano, and, optimistically, it is unique.

    Read more »
  • Madonna booed in Bucharest for defending Gypsies

    BUCHAREST, Romania - At first, fans politely applauded the Roma performers sharing a stage with Madonna. Then the pop star condemned widespread discrimination against Roma, or Gypsies — and the cheers gave way to jeers.

    The sharp mood change that swept the crowd of 60,000, who had packed a park for Wednesday night's concert, underscores how prejudice against Gypsies remains deeply entrenched across Eastern Europe.

    Despite long-standing efforts to stamp out rampant bias, human rights advocates say Roma probably suffer more humiliation and endure more discrimination than any other people group on the continent.

    Sometimes, it can be deadly: In neighboring Hungary, six Roma have been killed and several wounded in a recent series of apparently racially motivated attacks targeting small countryside villages predominantly settled by Gypsies.

    "There is generally widespread resentment against Gypsies in Eastern Europe. They have historically been the underdog," Radu Motoc, an official with the Soros Foundation Romania, said Thursday.

    Roma, or Gypsies, are a nomadic ethnic group believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe, but hundreds of thousands have migrated west over the past few decades in search of jobs and better living conditions.

    Romania has the largest number of Roma in the region. Some say the population could be as high as 2 million, although official data put it at 500,000.

    Until the 19th century, Romanian Gypsies were slaves, and they've gotten a mixed response ever since: While discrimination is widespread, many East Europeans are enthusiastic about Gypsy music and dance, which they embrace as part of the region's cultural heritage.

    That explains why the Roma musicians and a dancer who had briefly joined Madonna onstage got enthusiastic applause. And it also may explain why some in the crowd turned on Madonna when she paused during the two-hour show — a stop on her worldwide "Sticky and Sweet" tour — to touch on their plight.

    "It has been brought to my attention ... that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe," she said. "It made me feel very sad."

    Thousands booed and jeered her.

    A few cheered when she added: "We don't believe in discrimination ... we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone." But she got more boos when she mentioned discrimination against homosexuals and others.

    "I jeered her because it seemed false what she was telling us. What business does she have telling us these things?" said Ionut Dinu, 23.

    Madonna did not react and carried on with her concert, held near the hulking palace of the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

    Her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said Madonna and other had told her there were cheers as well as jeers.

    "Madonna has been touring with a phenomenal troupe of Roma musicians who made her aware of the discrimination toward them in several countries so she felt compelled to make a brief statement," Rosenberg said in an e-mail. "She will not be issuing a further statement."

    One Roma musician said the attitude toward Gypsies is contradictory.

    "Romanians watch Gypsy soap operas, they like Gypsy music and go to Gypsy concerts," said Damian Draghici, a Grammy Award-winner who has performed with James Brown and Joe Cocker.

    "But there has been a wave of aggression against Roma people in Italy, Hungary and Romania, which shows me something is not OK," he told the AP in an interview. "The politicians have to do s omething about it. People have to be educated not to be prejudiced. All people are equal, and that is the message politicians must give."

    Nearly one in two of Europe's estimated 12 million Roma claimed to have suffered an act of discrimination over the past 12 months, according to a recent report by the Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency. The group says Roma face "overt discrimination" in housing, health care and education.

    Many do not have official identification, which means they cannot get social benefits, are undereducated and struggle to find decent jobs.

    Roma children are more likely to drop out of school than their peers from other ethnic groups. Many Romanians label Gypsies as thieves, and many are outraged by those who beg or commit petty crimes in Western Europe, believing they spoil Romania's image abroad.

    In May 2007, Romanian President Traian Basescu was heard to call a Romanian journalist a "stinky Gypsy" during a conversation with his wife. Romania's anti-discrimination board criticized Basescu, who later apologized.

    Human rights activists say the attacks in Hungary, which began in July 2008, may be tied to that country's economic crisis and the rising popularity of far-right vigilantes angered by a rash of petty thefts and other so-called "Gypsy crime." Last week, police arrested four suspects in a nightclub in the eastern city of Debrecen.

    Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia also have been criticized for widespread bias against Roma.

    Madonna's outrage touched a nerve in Romania, but it seems doubtful it will change anything, said the Soros Foundation's Motoc.

    "Madonna is a pop star. She is not an expert on interethnic relations," he said.


    AP Writers Alison Mutler in Bucharest, William J. Kole in Vienna and Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this report. Read more »
  • Danity Kane WikiPedia Bio

    In 2004, producer Sean "Diddy" Combs returned with Making the Band 3, this time searching for the next female super group.[4] With the help of choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson, vocal trainer Doc Holiday and talent manager Johnny Wright, he set out on a multi-city search and chose twenty young singers out of almost 10,000 young women.[4][5] While seven women remained, Combs became discontent with the level of talent remaining in the competition, and eventually decided not to form a band.[4] He did, however, give a reprieve to three contestants he felt deserved another chance, including then-best friends Aubrey O'Day and Aundrea Fimbres, whose close bond originally formed early in the season.[4] The three contestants became the first to appear in Season 2 of the show.[4]

    Afterwards, Combs once again pressed his team to audition new young women for the group.[4] Finally, twenty young women were chosen and moved into a loft in New York City.[4] Viewers had become invested in O'Day and Fimbres's friendship, naming them "the AUs" and "Aubrea" (portmanteux of their first names put together), as they watched the two compete all over again for positions in the group.[4][6] As the competition's challenges increased, their friendship seemed to become the foundation upon which the group was being built.[4] In addition, O'D ay emerged as the show's breakout star.[4][5]

    After weeks of dance and singing lessons, promotional appearances, and a performance in front of 10,000 at a Backstreet Boys concert at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, VA, eleven contestants remained, including O'Day and Fimbres.[4] The finalists were sent home for three months, told to polish up, and return for the final stretch in November 2005.[4]

    On the second season's finale, on Monday, November 15, 2005, the show's ratings broke MTV records as millions of viewers watched to see the group officially formed.[4] Five of the eleven remaining contestants were chosen: O'Day first, Wanita "D. Woods" Woodgette second, Shannon Bex third, Dawn Angeliqué Richard fourth, and Fimbres last.[4] The final five members of the group in place, the third season of Making the Band 3 tracked the development and struggles of the new band — from then on known as "Danity Kane" (a name taken from a female anime superhero created and drawn by Richard).[7] The group would later be featured on the second and third seasons of Making the Band 4 with new male R&B group Day26, as well as new solo artist Donnie Klang.

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  • 68 people to be tried on murder, robbery, reception charges in Praia

    A total of 68 people are currently being tried by Praia district court on charges including robbery, murder and other crimes. 12 of these individuals are considered to belong to organized groups of delinquents and have been in preventative custody for more than a year.

    68 people to be tried on murder, robbery, reception charges in Praia

    More than 100 witnesses have been called in the cases – numbers that attest to the high degree of contagiousness of this so-called “petty crime” which, if not properly taken care of, can turn into a major headache for society and authorities alike.

    The twelve individuals in question (Igor, Fotxa, João Paulo, Misse, Nando, Dakontcha, Nuquinha, Gelson, Olavo, Vando, Ismael and Mariozinho), whose ages range from 19 to 30, are being tried for various crimes allegedly committed between 2008 and 2009, including robberies, illegal possession of firearms, disorderly conduct and assault.

    According to prosecutors, Igor (Eder Brown) has the longest list of crimes to answer for – 22 all told, including murder and racketeering.

    Fotxa (Henriquer Xavier) is accused of 12 different crimes, including murder.

    All twelve are accused of burglarizing homes in the Praia districts of Palmarejo and Tira Chapéu, stealing televisions, mobile phones, cash and various other goods. They are also accused of having committed armed robberies in which they physically assaulted their victims.

    Police have recovered a large portion of the stolen goods, which the thefts would sell at a low cost.

    The first two days of the trial took place last week to a full courtroom. Given the large number of defendants, the court decided to divide them into various different groups. The trial will continue until December 28 and resume between January 6 and 12, when it is slated to conclude.

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  • Leonardo DiCaprio To Lose Radical Amount Of Weight For New Film

    Leonardo DiCaprio is set to become the latest celebrity to get seriously skinny for a film role. The movie hunk faces a weighty battle to lose a pile of pounds for his new movie Inception, which has been written by The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.

    A set insider tells, "There's an action scene coming up at the end of the year in which he needs to appear emaciated, so the pressure is on. Leo isn't the kind of guy who can just lose a radical amount of weight... He's following a strict diet and is embarking on a rigorous workout regime. Leo's a pretty determined kind of guy, when he sets his mind to things he always achieves them. Though this is going to be hard for him, you can guarantee he'll succeed." Read more »
  • The island in focus

    Where it all began 24 June 2004

    You can’t say you’ve seen Cape Verde if you haven’t been to Santiago  
    It was here, on Cape Verde’s largest and most populous island, marked by valleys and mountains, that the story of the mid-Atlantic Creoles began. Here the new lives in harmony alongside tradition, and the rural alongside the urban in an almost non-chalant manner. An example of this is the fruit and vegetable market on the Plateau, smack in the city center, where the aromas, sounds, colors and flavors of life in the countryside make it a must-see for anyone really wanting to discover the island.

    Where it all began
    But Praia, where a number of buildings that tell of a recent colonial past still stand, is just the beginning. Because the tourist who wants to get to know the island has a number of long paths to make his way along, either through the mountainous interior or along the coast.

    And it is in the interior of the island, particularly in years in which rains has been plentiful, that one can discover the most authentic aspects of Santiago and its humble but dignified people, always ready to welcome the wayfarer, be it just for conversation or for a plate of cachupa, the island’s traditional food made with corn, beans, meat and vegetables.
    Those attracted to the sea will also have no reason for complaints. The coastline of Santiago, due to its very geographic structure, is dotted with calm and welcoming bays and coves, many of them as wild as when nature moulded them and waiting to be discovered. Of the better known bays there is one, São Martinho, near the city of Praia, that is internationally recognized as a touchstone in aerial navigation – Portugal’s Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho visited the bay in 1922 in their hydroplane, in a voyage that opened up the air path to Brazil.
    Nearby is one of the most important tourist spots on Santiago and in all of Cape Verde – Cidade Velha (“Old City”), the first European city in sub-Saharan Africa. The town’s importance has made it a candidate to be included on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. The patrimony that over the centuries resisted the attacks of pirates is currently being restored so as to lend greater value to the space and bring it closer to qualifying for the UNESCO title.
    Even so, more than just natural landscapes and historic sites, what is most enchanting in Santiago are other aspects of its culture, beginning with music. Particular highlights are batuko and funaná, markedly African rhythms present at all moments in the life of Santiago natives. In addition to sounds, there are also flavors. The island’s renowned cuisine is based on various dishes made of corn and beans.
    The little canyon  
    Santiago is not discovered only on official paths. The island, especially its interior, has countless corners to discover, as is the case of a practically inhospitable region baptized by a Portuguese journalist as the Little Canyon. The “Little Canyon” is a gigantic rock gorge whose features seem as if they were hand-sculpted, punctuated by long, green vines hanging down from a region notable for its aridness. The valley, which is not very long, opens up onto a rocky beach.
    But there are countless other places like the Little Canyon, some of which even contain springs that resist the long periods of drought that afflict the island’s hinterlands. Some of the landscapes, veritable treasures, have been discovered by tourists who, travelling in groups with powerful jeeps, cut across the countryside in authentic adventures of discovery.
    Marilene Pereira
    Fragata magazine, nº3 - 2003
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