Friday, November 17, 2006

Passport rules changing next year

Miami Herald

• American citizens with plans to travel to Western Hemisphere countries in the New Year should be aware of changes to passport rules. In early 2007 (the exact date hasn't been fixed), passports will be required for air travel between the United States and countries in Central and South America, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. In 2008, possibly as early as January, they will also be required for U.S. citizens traveling to those destinations by land or sea. Travel between the U.S. and its territories, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, won't be affected.

The changes are required by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative under the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. Its purpose is to ensure that everyone leaving or entering the country carries standardized, secure and reliable documentation. For those who travel frequently, there are ''frequent traveler'' programs that expedite the customs and immigration process at airports. Learn more on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website,

Various city, county, and federal agencies accept passport applications, as do clerks of the court and many post offices. To find the nearest location, visit and select ''Passports for U.S. Citizens.'' Information about fees can be found there, too. Applicants may also obtain automated, general passport information 24/7, in English and Spanish, by calling 877-4USA-PPT (877-487-2778), toll-free. Those needing further information, including the status of an application, can speak, also in English or Spanish, to customer service agents between 7 a.m. and midnight Monday through Friday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Are all Ancient African practices necessary?

Submitted by Herta Malita Shikapwashya
KNN Staff-International Geopolitics Reporter

Africans that practice female circumcision have been urged by the United Nations to eliminate the ancient practice. Unfortunately, this appeal is not only for Africans in Africa, but Africans all over the world. The world refuses to recognize this tradition for it is humiliating to women, and they are taking the necessary steps to condemn this practice.

In Sweden for example, a court jailed a Somali man in June 2006 to four years on imprisonment for forcing his 13 year old daughter to be circumcised. It was Sweden’s first conviction in that country since it banned the practice in 1982. It has also been reported that in the United Kingdom (UK), more than 74,000 women living in that country had undergone female circumcision which led to Sierra Leone’s Information Minister condemning the British House of Lords ruling to grant asylum to its 18 year old citizen because she feared female circumcision. In Kenya, many girls were reported to have been in hiding from their parents for fear of female genital mutilation. These girls were being sheltered by churches.

In Burkina Faso, 14 people were arrested for carrying out female genital mutilation on 16 young girls. Generally, no one is arrested in African countries when female circumcisions are carried out, however an anonymous tip to a local campaign group against female circumcision has assisted in the arrest of some. Barbaric ways of preserving a girls virginity are not the best methods. Other comfortable practices that do not humiliate girls such as, the Right of Passage were put in place to do the same thing that female circumcision does.

Why can't these countries adopt the Right of Passage method as opposed to female genital mutilation? Certainly, that question can only be answered by those that practice female circumcision. One thing that is clear is this, African countries that have some form of islamic influence tend to practice female circumcision. This is not to say that Islam is good or bad. However one has to wonder why these countries (with some islamic influences) go to such extreme measure to protect a girls' worth. While female circumcision is a traditional practice for some African countries, it is not necessary for these traditions to be carried out in countries that condemn the practice.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Census report: Broad racial disparities persist

Differences in income, education, home ownership continue, data finds
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Decades after the civil rights movement, racial disparities in income, education and home ownership persist and, by some measurements, are growing. White households had incomes that were two-thirds higher than blacks and 40 percent higher than Hispanics last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. White adults were also more likely than black and Hispanic adults to have college degrees and to own their own homes. They were less likely to live in poverty. See: U.S. report: Racial disparities continue

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blacks In US Have Suicide Attempt Rate Higher Than Previously Reported

Medical News Today

New research indicates that blacks in the U.S. have a lifetime prevalence of attempted suicide of about 4 percent, a rate comparable with the general population, but higher than previous estimates, according to a study in the November 1 issue of JAMA. Among all Americans, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death and the rates range across specific demographic subgroups. In recent years, suicide and nonfatal suicidal behavior have emerged as crucial health issues for blacks, particularly among older adolescents and young adults, according to background information in the article. Although suicide has traditionally been viewed as a problem that affects more whites, the rates of suicide among blacks have increased significantly since the mid 1980s. Lack of data on the lifetime prevalence and age at onset of suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts among blacks in the United States have limited the development and evaluation of interventions to reduce suicide among black Americans. See: Click here: Blacks In US Have Suicide Attempt Rate Higher Than Previously Reported