Air Algerie: Flight 5017 Drops Off Radar; 116 People On Board

Air Algerie flight 5017 is missing. (Photo: FlyFlyTravel.com)

Air Algerie flight 5017 is missing. (Photo: FlyFlyTravel.com)

CNN.com is reporting that Air Algerie’s flight 5017 has fallen off of the radar 50 minutes after takeoff. Laura Smith-Spark and Claudia Rebaza of CNN write:

“An Air Algerie flight with 116 people on board has dropped off radar, prompting a search for the missing plane, the airline’s operator said Thursday.

Flight 5017 lost radar contact 50 minutes after takeoff from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, early Thursday. It was supposed to arrive at Algiers’ Houari Boumediene Airport about four hours later.

The plane, an MD-83, was carrying 110 passengers, two pilots and four crew members. The MD-83 is part of the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 family of twin-engine, single-aisle jets.

The plane belongs to a private Spanish company, Swiftair, but it appears to have been operated by Air Algerie.”

It is believed that the plane vanished somewhere over Mali. This story is developing.

Read more on CNN.

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Opening Statements Have Begun in Renisha McBride Case

Walter Wafer, 55, is charged in the murder of Renisha McBride, 19, whom he killed by shooting in the face.  (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Walter Wafer, 55, is charged in the murder of Renisha McBride, 19, whom he killed by shooting in the face.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)

Jackie Taurianen of HLNTV.com is reporting that opening statements in the case against Theodore Wafer, 55, who shot and killed  Renisha McBride, 19, an unarmed 19-year-old girl on his porch last year, after McBride allegedly approached Wafer after being injured in a car accident.

Taurianen writes:

“Defense attorneys opened their case by telling jurors Wafer had heard banging on his door at least four separate times before he opened it and shot Renisha McBride in the face in the early morning hours of November 2, 2013. Wafer is charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony use of a firearm.”

Wafer’s defense team is claiming that he shot McBride in the face in self-defense. Prosecutors allege that Wafer murdered McBride whom he shot through a locked screen door. Wafer is white and McBride is African-American. If convicted, Wafer faces life in prison.

Read more at Headline News.

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Nigeria: Eleven Parents of Missing School Girls Killed in Boko Haram Attack

Chibok after Boko Haram bombings. (Photo: TalkofNaija.com)

Chibok after Boko Haram bombings. (Photo: TalkofNaija.com)

Al Jazeera is reporting that at least 11 parents of the 200+ missing school girls in Chibok have been killed in a Boko Haram attack on Tuesday. The attack took place on the 100th day since the missing school girls were kidnapped. The author writes:

“Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, a health worker told AP news agency on Tuesday.

The worker asked for anonymity for fear of reprisals by Boko Haram, an Islamic armed group that claimed responsibility for the mass abduction of the girls.

At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the abductions, said community leader Pogu Bitrus.

‘One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him,’ Bitrus told AP.”

Boko Haram has intensified attacks on the Chibok region, which has now been cut off due to the frequent attacks. Planes are no longer being allowed in the region and survivors of the attacks are leaving the area.

Some also speculate that there are more missing girls than accounted for because parents are withholding their names for fear of stigmatization of the girls (rape, forced religious conversion) if they are found and brought home.

Although authorities say they know the location of the girls, they believe it is too dangerous to go in and get them. As for the inability or unwillingness to protect Chibok, there has been little to no information.

Read more at Al Jazeera.

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Barbados: UWI Cave Hill and China Partner on Confucius Institute

Impression of the Confucius Institute at UWI Cave Hill by architect Dr. Albert Best. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of University of West Indies)

Impression of the Confucius Institute at UWI Cave Hill by architect Dr. Albert Best. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of University of West Indies)

Caribbean 360 is reporting that the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill and the Chinese government are partnering on the establishment of a Confucius Institute. Confucius Institutes are non-profit public teaching organizations that promote Chinese language and

culture, and facilitate cultural exchanges.

The author writes:

“According to the Barbados Government Information Service, the establishment of the institute, ‘follows a series of discussions, between China, Barbados and the UWI since 2009, and as recent as March 2014, when Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, met with representatives of China University of Political Science and Law, partners in the establishment of the institute here on the island’”.

China has established over 400 Confucius Institutes Worldwide. While Confucius Institutes are welcomed and celebrated by many institutions, others worry about the influence of the Chinese government on the structure of the program and the speed at which the institutes are spreading.

There are Confucius Institutes at UWI Mona in Jamaica (opened in 2010) and UWI St. Augustine (opened in 2013).

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Playwright Darren Canady: ‘Right On’ Reflects Art & Community

Award-winning Playwright Darren Canady.  (Photo Credit: Kris Rogers)

Award-winning Playwright Darren Canady.
(Photo Credit: Kris Rogers)

Playwright and University of Kansas professor Darren Canady knows there’s an art to transforming communities. His semi-autobiographical dramatic writing centers on complex African Americans families from the Midwest dealing with life-altering conflicts.

Sociocultural changes in America spanning the 20th Century provide subtext to Canady’s works. For example, False Creeds, which earned Alliance Theatre’s coveted Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award in 2007, concentrates on a young man being exposed to his dying grandmother’s connection to the 1921 burning of Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street.”

The M. Elizabeth Osborn award winner, Brothers of the Dustexamines tension between siblings on an Arkansas farm post-desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School. Muddy the Wateris a morality play that concentrates on members of a church community confronting their own dirty laundry after a minister is arrested for committing lewd acts in a park.

Canady was raised in a home filled with constant performative storytelling and genealogy lessons. His family’s oral histories include his dad tracing his agricultural lineage rooted in the Ozarks and South Carolina. Members of his mother’s family were small business owners in the all-black Vernon, OK and farmers in Texas.

Incredibly extroverted, the passionate dramatist speaks in detail with his hands: pinching fingers together and pulling his arms towards his body. “The story of my family is a story of migration,” he says.

“There is a bit of a blind spot in the American consciousness, but we’ve been there. It informs so much of the black experience. I made the assumption that it was the same for everyone. Other people can’t write about that because that’s not where they come from. Those stories deserve their own place.”

Any other time Canady speaks, he takes deep breaths and ponders his responses. The compelling writer, sitting comfortably in one the patron rooms of Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre, refers to theatre as “a conversation starter.”

“It’s a place we do the old tradition of gathering together to tell a story,” says Canady. “It’s the interaction between story and audience. The dialogue isn’t just on the stage.”

His current production, Right On!, chronicles a former Civil Rights activist and her son running into her classmates at her alma mater. The story, set in 2004, revisits some unresolved issues from 30 years prior and even reveals some unspoken truths.

Right On! was inspired in part by a New Year’s party Canady attended with his parents. The Carnegie Mellon, NYU and Juilliard alumnus heard numerous stories for the first time about his mother’s radicalism. One of her friends began to chastise Canady’s age group for being apathetic.

Listening empathetically to his elder’s concerns, the inquisitive creator felt it was more effective to speak up through dramatic license. “If we don’t know this information and this history hasn’t been passed on, how can we know how much it means?” says Canady.

“I realized over time as I began to write, it couldn’t be written from a place of frustration with that generation.”

The former T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange participant credits his ability to vividly capture revealing moments for the stage to his extensive training. Canady, a self-proclaimed “nosy and messy creator,” takes a few moments to talk about the importance of artists obtaining a quality education.

He reiterates students having resilience and dedication. “The institutions I attended taught me the importance of revision, having a thick skin and understanding the job is to tell the story in its most effective way,” says Canady, who held residencies with America-In-Play and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s not easy. They’re big on establishing artistic identity but also saying what it takes to be a professional. Those years were about maturing not just as a writer but as a person.”

While in college, the stage scenarist ventured into journalism. The former Topeka Capital-Journal intern (and admitted news junkie and avid reader of humorous blog posts) draws parallels between covering beats and playwriting.

“They’re both about capturing the story and providing context,” he says. “My plays are based on newspaper and real life accounts. Playwriting just puts flesh on the story.”

When Canady sits on the other side of the desk as an instructor, he lays ground rules for students taking his courses. He encourages those young writers to find their voice. He appreciates it when their peers can provide constructive criticism so that the final work is cohesive and has continuity.

“I can teach them the craft, but I can’t teach them the art,” says Canady. “It’s a singular voice. Some students are able to craft characters and do something to make the work come alive that no one else could.”

Even with exceptional student writers, Canady still makes his comments and gives them feedback on their drafts.

He lists the qualities that make exceptional playwrights. “They can’t be afraid to revise,” says Canady.

“What comes out on that first draft is not gonna be performed. That’s a big hurdle to place in front of someone, but they do have to get over it. They can’t be afraid to present the work in class and hear someone say they didn’t understand something.”

“If people come with that openness, the writer’s job is to respond to that,” adds Canady. “The ability to engage that person is huge for young writers.”

Between giving undergraduate students writing tips and advising graduate students of color who often feel challenged by the culture of higher education, interacting with students influences Canady’s own creative output.

“They challenge me to be as responsible as I demand they be,” he says. “I have to check myself as I respond to their work. I question my own writing philosophy but in a good way. They force me to evolve.”

As Canady prepared Right On! for the stage and taught his courses, he also spent that same year crafting a play for a predominately ethnic minority high school in Kansas. The students are currently preparing to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe later this year.

The project, Canady says, gives him great satisfaction. “Building the play for them was so rewarding,” he says. “I watched them grow as artists and as people. The students not only influenced the work, but my goal for them was for them to see themselves in a different way.”

Canady’s career continues to soar: receiving accolades like the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwrights and Juilliard’s Lecomte Du Nouy Prize. This fall, he’s teaching both a freshman seminar and a graduate course.

Creatively, the playwright doesn’t rule out the possibility of his work evolving into a big production. However, Canady prefers to just craft stories that resonate with audiences.

He remembers being at the Alliance and overhearing high school students in the audience debating during False Creeds’ intermission about its closing scenario. They shared their views on their families, gender and communities.

That moment, Canady says, personifies why he is a playwright. “I want them to leave talking,” he says. “It’s most effective when we see ourselves. Theatre is supposed to reflect us back, and that’s powerful.”

Right On! runs at Horizon Theatre Company in Atlanta from July 18 – August 31.

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

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RE2PECT: Jordan Brand Commercial Honoring Jeter is Pretty Awesome

Retiring Yankees captain Derek Jeter appears in RE2PECT Jordan Brand Ad. (Screen Grab)

Retiring Yankees captain Derek Jeter appears in RE2PECT Jordan Brand Ad.
(Screen Grab)

The blogosphere is lit up over the Jordan Brand Commercial honoring baseball legend Derek Jeter. The ad shows a multitude of people from all walks of life – fans, police officers, stadium workers to famous celebrities like NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani, Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, Tiger Woods, Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, Jay-Z and Michael Jordan paying homage to the Yankees’ no. 2, one of the greatest short stops to play the game.

In addition to iconic New Yorkers, the commercial also shows unlikely supporters like Boston Red Sox fans, Jeanie Buss and NY Mets players, who can’t help but tip their hats to the legacy of the retiring Yankees Captain. Check out the advertisement below and see why this farewell ad honoring Derek Jeter has over 6 million YouTube views.

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R.I.P.: ‘The Roots’ Manager Rich Nichols Dies

Legendary hip-hop writer, producer and manager Rich Nichols has died at 55. (Google Images)

Legendary hip-hop writer, producer and manager Rich Nichols has died at 55. (Google Images)

Rich Nichols, the legendary hip-hop writer, producer and manager of iconic hip-hop group The Roots has died. Nichols, who managed and produced The Roots for two decades, died today after a long battle with leukemia, which was confirmed by The Roots on their Okayplayer website. On the site, they referred to Nichols as “the guiding spirit behind the group.”

Billboard reports:

“Nichols had managed the Roots since the early ’90s, steering them on an unlikely trajectory from Philly street buskers, to heavy-touring hip-hop favorites, to the house band for America’s premiere late night show. He is also credited as producer, executive producer, mixer and A&R on several Roots albums and projects by the many artists the acclaimed band has collaborated with, including Jay-Z, Al Green, Common, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu.”

Artists with whom Nichols worked expressed condolences on Twitter.

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Nichols is survived by his wife Mercedes Martinez, sons Amiri Nichols and Rakim Nichols, sisters Rochelle Nichols-Solomon, Rebecca Dennis and brothers Russell Nichols and Reginald Nichols. He was 55.

Read more on Okayplayer or Billboard.

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ESPY Awards Must-See: Stuart Scott’s Award Speech

ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott gives acceptance speech at 2014 ESPY Awards. (Screen Grab)

ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott gives acceptance speech at 2014 ESPY Awards. (Screen Grab)

ESPN Broadcaster Stuart Scott is the recipient of the 2014 Jimmy V Perseverance Award. Named for legendary North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano who died of bone cancer in 1993.  Scott, who was diagnosed with appendiceal cancer in 2007, delivered an inspirational speech that moved audience members who gave Scott two standing ovations. Scott discussed fighting cancer, acknowledged the constant battle that it is, the need to rest and let others pick up the battle for you when you feel like you can’t go on and the reason that he continues to fight — because he “can’t leave his daughters.”

Scott’s words were inspirational, imparting wisdom to those fighting cancer or any other battle in life. He said:

“When you die,that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

In a world where acknowledging weakness is discouraged, Scott demonstrated strength and dignity as he continues the good fight.

Watch Scott’s ESPY speech below:

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

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Hate Crime: 79-Year-Old Black Woman Judge Arnette Hubbard Assaulted

President of IT Consulting firm David Nicosia, 55,  assaulted iconic judge Arnette Hubbard, 79.

President of IT Consulting firm David Nicosia, 55, assaulted iconic judge Arnette Hubbard, 79. (Google Images)

Schmadeke writes:

“Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday that Hubbard was outside the Daley Center smoking a cigarette when she walked past David C. Nicosia, 55, who became angry that she was smoking near him.

The two argued and Nicosia, who is white, stepped near her face and said, ‘Rosa Parks, move,’ and spit in her face, prosecutors said. As he walked away, the Law Division judge followed him and called out for assistance.

Nicosia then turned and allegedly slapped the judge on the left side of her face with an open hand, prosecutors said. He was then arrested by sheriff’s deputies and charged with four counts of aggravated battery and a hate crime.

Judge James Brown ordered him held on $90,000 bail Tuesday.”

Read more at The Chicago-Tribune.

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France’s President Hollande Begins West Africa Tour

West Africa

BBC News is reporting that French President Francois Hollande is embarking on a three-day tour of West Africa. The president will be accompanied by 50 French business leaders who hope to take advantage of the Ivorian economy’s strong growth rate of between 8% and 9% in recent years. The French-language news magazine Jeune Afrique says there are about 200 French subsidiaries and some 400 small and medium French firms in Ivory Coast.

In addition to business interests, France intervened in a post-election (2010) conflict lead by former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept defeat.  3,000 people were killed in post-election violence. The International Criminal Court said last month that it had enough evidence to put Gbagbo on trial for war crimes. Gbagbo refutes the claims.

President Holland’s visit will also include Niger and Chad where he will make final decisions about the French military presence in the Sahel region. The author writes:

“France believes that armed groups in the Sahel are not only a threat to West African countries but also to Europe and intends to keep 3,000 troops there under a regional command structure based in Chad.”

During this trip, President Hollande intends to finalize a counter-terrorism plan to combat Islamist militant groups.

Read more at BBC News.

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