Oscar Pistorius Found Guilty of Culpable Homicide

Paralympian champion Oscar Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Paralympian champion Oscar Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Celebrated athlete Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of culpable homicide in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. Culpable homicide is equivalent to manslaughter in the United States.

Sarah Lyall and Alan Cowell of The New York Times write:

“Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa agreed to extend Mr. Pistorius’s bail until his sentencing hearing begins, on Oct. 13. She said she believed the defense’s explanation that Mr. Pistorius had sold his property to pay his legal fees and dismissed suggestions that he would try to flee the country.

The verdict marked the culmination of a closely watched drama that transfixed many around the world. Mr. Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, in the early hours of Feb. 14, 2013, saying he believed an intruder had entered his home. Wielding a handgun loaded with hollow-point ammunition, he opened fire on a locked toilet cubicle door only to discover when he broke the door down with a cricket bat that Ms. Steenkamp was inside. The prosecution sought to prove that he intended to kill her, but he called her death an accident and a mistake.”

Pistorius was found innocent of premeditated murder. He faces five to 15 years in prison for this conviction.

Read more at The New York Times.

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#BringBackGoodluck2015: Nigerian President Bans Hashtag Campaign

President Goodluck's supporters with hashtag on banner. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

President Goodluck’s supporters with hashtag on banner.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

BBC News is reporting that Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Johnson, is asking that his supporters cease using a modified version of the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag to campaign for his re-election. Supporters have been using the hashtag #BringBackGoodluck2015 to campaign for President Goodluck’s reelection. The author writes:

“The slogan was widely critizised because it seemed to dramatically misread the public mood in the country. The abducted school girls are still held captive, despite repeated promises by the government – and President Jonathan himself – to secure their release. So far, the government has not taken military steps to rescue the girls, arguing that if force is used, they may end up being killed by the militants.”

The slogan was never officially endorsed by President Goodluck’s camp, but the slogan could be seen on signs and banners around Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.

Not surprisingly, the use of the hashtag caused a major backlash. The public took to Twitter calling the slogan “insensitive” and “inappropriate.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 11.42.11 AM

Twitter users now want Twitter to remove the hashtag altogether.

Read more at BBC.com.

This post was written by Reginald Calhoun, editorial assistant for The Burton Wire. Follow him on Twitter @IRMarsean.

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Oscar Pistorius: Not Guilty? Not Yet

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of premeditated murder. The final verdict is still pending as of 9/11.

Oscar Pistorius has been found not guilty of premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The final verdict is still pending as of 9/11. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Celebrated Paralympian Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of premeditated murder.  Judge Thokozile Masipa began delivering her statement about the verdict around 3:30 a.m. EST this morning. She doesn’t believe that prosecutors proved their claim of premeditation, but she also doesn’t necessarily think Pistorius is innocent.

In South African court, the judge has to explain her entire thought process which is why it takes so long for the official verdict to be made, which will be given tomorrow. Although Pistorius is not guilty of premeditation (which was a stretch to prove anyway based on the public facts about the case), Pistorius may still be found guilty of culpable homicide or manslaughter or the firearm charges he’s facing. A final verdict has not been reached yet, so he still may go to prison.

The official verdict will be handed down tomorrow. It is basically a waiting game to see if Pistorius will pay for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

You may also be interested in Ray Rice and Oscar Pistorius: The Tie That Binds.

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Ray Rice and Oscar Pistorius: The Tie That Binds

Celebrated Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius faces murder charges over killing his fiance Reeva Steenkamp. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Celebrated Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius faces murder charges over killing his fiance Reeva Steenkamp. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

This week has been a heavy one for the sports world. Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his team after an email reflecting his disdain for black fans became public. Celebrated former Duke basketball star Danny Ferry’s boy-next-door image was shattered after he was found to have made disparaging remarks about small forward Luol Deng’s African heritage in the front office. The Ravens axed superstar running back Ray Rice after TMZ released footage of the tape where Rice decked his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer during an argument in an elevator. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is now backpedaling on why he only suspended Rice for two games, even though he and the NFL insist they never saw the entire tape of what transpired on the elevator.

The Rice story has been so pervasive in the media that folks have all but forgotten that storied South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius will learn his fate on Sept 11 for killing his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp in a domestic violence incident.

Once again the topic of domestic violence and sports have come barreling to television and computer screens, mobile phones and social media networks. The Ray Rice and Oscar Pistorius incidents are giving us yet another opportunity to discuss the problem of violence against women in society in general and violence against women in sports specifically and yet we continue to participate in the same ritual that ensures that these horrific incidents won’t be isolated, but will remain the status quo.

One only has to look at social media, visit the water cooler or visit a bar to hear people defend the actions of a professional athlete, that can bench press 500 pounds, literally “Steeling” his wife in the face. Folks want to split hairs about whether it was the punch that knocked her out or hitting her head on the railing. Many believe that Janay Palmer Rice’s behavior that night, charging at and then spitting on her then-boyfriend justifies his “dropping” her like a bad habit.  Apparently Palmer Rice also believes this tomfoolery.

Interestingly enough the same has happened with Pistorius. Folks have used his troubled childhood as a reason for his violent temper towards women. They’ve suggested that his physical challenge, which he overcame to become one of the most celebrated athletes in modern sports, caused him to lash out at others. Media has run headlines stating that “Pistorius is heartbroken over killing Steenkamp.” I suppose the fact that Steenkamp’s heart is no longer beating doesn’t qualify for being heartbroken. There is even a website “Support for Oscar” dedicated to Pistorius, a man who shot his girlfriend four times through a closed door and released a statement on the anniversary of her death, much to the chagrin of her family. The description reads, “Oscar Pistorius – athlete, ambassador, inspiration – innocent until proven guilty” yet leaves off batterer and killer as descriptors.

Therein lies the problem – the willingness of people to pick and choose who and what matters and when in the world of sports. Pistorius’ supporters obviously care more about sports than they care about the life of Steenkamp or the other intimate partners he terrorized. Intimate partner violence, domestic violence – whatever term you want to use – is not handled swiftly or judiciously by the NFL, NCAA, sports team owners, the media or friends and families of the perpetrators, because a Super Bowl ring or Olympic gold medal literally has more value than the life of a wife or significant other. The pervasive idea that the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes only matter because of their association with said high profile athlete proves just that. The women apparently don’t have lives, desires, wants, successes, education, businesses, plans, goals or objectives other than being Mrs. Sports Superstar. This way of thinking is not surprising.

Throughout the world, women’s bodies have been historically policed, devalued, used, violated and discarded for the purposes of literally building and supporting major industries (plantations, sex work, media), so is it a wonder that violence against women is overlooked when it comes to the sports industry? Whenever women’s bodies intersect with dominant cultural industries, like sports, it never bodes well for the woman. While many think of sports as merely entertainment, the precarious treatment of women, tells us otherwise. Clearly Title IX exists for a reason.

ParaOlympian champion Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

ParaOlympian champion Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Each year, billions upon billions of dollars are spent worldwide on the category of sports, from amateur to professional athletes to little leagues throughout the world. Sports enthusiasts relish feel good stories like Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team winning the World Series, soccer goalie Tim Howard becoming an international superstar, tennis legend Serena Williams overcoming injuries and taking home her 18th singles grand slam title and Serge Ibaka using his fame and fortune to help children in The Republic of the Congo, his homeland, to name a few.

In the same ways that these stories deserve our admiration and support, stories of domestic abuse deserve our ire. We need to require more of these billionaire sports owners, ridiculously empowered sports commissioners like Goodell, and of course millionaire players, some of whom are speaking out against Rice’s actions.

Former NFL star player Ray Rice and wife Janay Palmer Rice.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Former NFL star player Ray Rice and wife Janay Palmer Rice.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Sports resonate with so many people because we actually see ourselves in the players, the competition, the wins and the losses. If ever there is a loss, then domestic violence is one of them.

Ray Rice and Oscar Pistorius are bound by high-profile domestic violence incidents – both ended with the loss of a career; one ended with the loss of a woman’s life. How many more times are we going to watch this happen and have the same tired, discussion about who is to blame instead of what’s to blame and fixing the problem? The tie that binds Rice and Pistorius is more than domestic violence. It is the ways in which sports and media culture work together to ensure that perpetrators of violence like Rice and Pistorius are seen as victims, while the real victims like Palmer Rice and Steenkamp are victimized over and over again.

This post was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire, an award-winning news site that covers news of the African Diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire

African Union Pushes for Ebola Travel Ban Removal

African-Union

African Union meets to discuss Ebola travel bans being lifted. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

The Mail & Guardian is reporting that the African Union is calling for all travel bans related to the Ebola affected member states to be lifted.

AU Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has stressed that the ban has hampered economic growth by restricting trade. The article reports:

“Dlamini-Zuma says, ‘Fighting Ebola must be done in a manner that doesn’t fuel isolation or lead to the stigmatisation of victims, communities and countries.’” 

The article also highlights the fact that with the bans being lifted, proper safety precautions and screening procedures should be put forth to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, screening facilities will be placed at points of departure as well as points of entry.

Read more at The Mail & Guardian South Africa.

This post was written by Reginald Calhoun, editorial assistant for The Burton Wire. Follow him on Twitter @Rmarsean.

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Israel Accused of Expelling Africans by Human Rights Watch

Eritreans and Sudanese march for human rights in Israel. (Photo: Google Images)

Eritreans and Sudanese march for human rights in Israel. (Photo: Google Images)

AllAfrica.com is reporting that Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli government of forcing thousands of African asylum seekers to return home where they face abuse, imprisonment and possibly torture. Many of the asylum seekers are fleeing Sudan and Eritrea and have been placed in detention camps where they are not allowed to work. The author writes:

“There’s been a series of laws put in place that basically gives people the choice between being able to stay in Israel but potentially in indefinite detention, or being sent back to the country they came from … We think this constitutes effective ‘refoulement,’ which is a refugee law term that means you’re being basically forced back to a country where you face a well-founded fear of some kind of persecution,” said Bill Van Esveld of Human Rights Watch.

Some Israelis say the influx threatens the very nature of the Jewish state. The government built a fence along the Egyptian border to keep them out.”

Israeli’s see those that entered the country before the border was constructed as refugees and those that came after the border as illegal workers. Those Africans who leave Israel and return face 10 year prison sentences.

Read more at AllAfrica.com.

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Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial: The Possible Verdicts

ParaOlympian champion Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

ParaOlympian champion Oscar Pistorius is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Domestic violence has been front and center in the U.S. because of the released footage of NFL player Ray Rice’s assault on his wife Janay Palmer Rice. Internationally, all eyes are on the trial of storied Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, who was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. Viasen Soobramoney of the Guardian writes:

“The Paralympian faces a premeditated murder charge after he fired four shots through a toilet door at his Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day 2013, which killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius claims he had mistaken her for an intruder. He also faces two charges relating to firing a gun in a public space, and a separate charge for illegally possessing ammunition.”

If Pistorius is found not guilty on all charges, then he will go free, his bail will be returned to him and he can then file a civil case against the minister of police and justice if he believes the case was mishandled.

If he is found guilty on all charges, Soobramoney writes:

“Premeditated murder in South Africa carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, which constitutes 25 years. Coupled with anything from two to five years in prison or a fine for the firearm and ammunition charges could see the athlete spend three decades in prison. South African law does afford him a parole hearing after 25 years and, if released, will still be on parole for the rest of his life.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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Somalia: Radio Stations Shut Down for Airing Al-Shabab Leaders

Somali journalists in body armor. (Google Images)

Somali journalists in body armor. (Google Images)

AllAfrica.com is reporting that two Somali radio stations have been taken off of the air after broadcasting speeches by al-Shabab leaders. The speeches aired included spokesman Ali Dere, who discussed the death of Ali Godane and the announcement of Godane’s successor Ahmed Omar Abu-Ubeyda aka Ahmed Dhere.

The staffs of Kulmiye and Simba FM radio stations in the capital Mogadishu, were detained by the Somali Intelligence Agency (S.I.A).

Last week, the SIA warned independent Somali media outlets not to publish or broadcast any information or speeches related to Al-shabab. Shabelle and Sky FM were shut down last week for airing al-Shabab content. The chairman of Somali independent media houses association (SIMHA) Hassan Ali Gesey was detained last week for speaking out against the “media crackdown” by the government.

Those detained have been reportedly beaten and tortured.

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Serena Williams Wins 18th Grand Slam Singles Title

Tennis legend Serena Williams wins U.S. Open, her 18th singles title. (Google Images)

Tennis legend Serena Williams wins U.S. Open, her 18th singles title. (Google Images)

Legendary tennis player Serena Williams can add another win to her singles column. On Sunday, the world’s number one player defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the U.S. Open, beating the Dane 6-3 6-3. CNN reports that “the victory secured Williams’ 18th career grand slam singles title,”  tying Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert’s record. Steffi Graf holds the all time record with 22 career grand slam single titles in the open era.

Williams was joined and congratulated after the match by Navratilova and Evert, who presented Williams with an 18 carat gold Tiffany tennis bracelet to commemorate the win.

Williams, who had not made the quarter finals at any grand slam this season, overcame injuries to decidedly defeat Wozniacki.

Read more at CNN.

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Plane Crashes Off of the Coast of Jamaica

map_of_jamaicaRay Sanchez of CNN.com is reporting that a small unresponsive plane that flew south over the United States into the Caribbean Sea has crashed off the coast of Jamaica, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Sanchez writes:

“F-15 pilots tracking the unresponsive plane could see, before the small plane’s windows frosted, a pilot slumped over, a NORAD official said. The official said one or two other people are believed to be on board, though the number has not been confirmed.

The pilot of the unresponsive plane stopped responding to radio calls at about 10 a.m. ET, the FAA said.”

The unresponsive flight was reportedly being tailed by a Cuban fighter jet, which did not shoot down the plane.

This story is developing.

For more information and to read the full story, visit CNN.com.

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