Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Credible reports of a massacre" of Muslims in Nigeria

As new grim details emerge about the recent outbreak of religious violence in Nigeria, there is mounting evidence of a targeted massacre of Muslims by an organized group of armed Christians.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) now says there are "credible reports of a massacre of at least 150 Muslim residents" of the Nigerian town of Kuru Karama, 30 kilometers south of the city of Jos in Plateau State in central Nigeria.

According to HRW, the killings were carried out "allegedly by groups of men armed with knives, machetes, and guns":
Witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that groups of armed men attacked the largely Muslim population of Kuru Karama around 10 a.m. on January 19, 2010. After surrounding the town, they hunted down and attacked Muslim residents, some of whom had sought refuge in homes and a local mosque, killing many as they tried to flee and burning many others alive. The witnesses said they believed members of the armed groups to be Christians.

Community leaders from Jos and journalists who visited the town under military escort later in the week told Human Rights Watch that they saw bodies, including several charred corpses of young children and babies, strewn around town, including dozens stuffed down wells or in sewage pits. According to a Muslim official who visited the town to arrange for burial of the bodies, 121 have been recovered so far, including the bodies of 22 young children. The official told Human Rights Watch that corpses are still lodged in 16 wells. Journalists and community leaders who visited the town said that nearly all of the homes and the three main mosques were burned and destroyed.
Go to HRW's website to read more.

Holy Frak, BSG Is Back!!

Warning: Spoilage To Follow!!
My primary response after having watched Caprica on DVD months ago ("Monotheistic Robots of Doom"), then going back and rewatching the last 1.5 seasons of Battlestar Galactica, and also watching The Plan when it first aired, and then watching the "first episode" of Caprica last night on the Syfy channel (it was just the movie/pilot) was: holy frak, Alessandra Torresani is great! Seriously, she is the new Starbuck. Or maybe she's even Starbuck plus Gaius Baltar put together.

To be honest I wasn't that crazy about Torresani the first time I watched Caprica (the movie). And I have been very much underwhelmed by the cheesy way in which she is being hyped as "Caprica's cover girl". But now I realize just how interesting her character is, and how fantastic a job she is doing with it. It's really too bad she has to be a fraking Cylon!

But that's an inevitable problem with a story in which polytheists are the good guys and monotheists are the bad guys. As Rob Lowe recently observed, "bad guys are always the best written characters."

I am really looking forward to seeing how this story develops. So far I have been very impressed with the way in which different elements of the whole BSG story fit together. In particular, the character of the scarily brilliant, needy, self-centered but ultimately (if often only just barely) lovable Zoe Graystone really works as not only the first Cylon, but the prototype for the the "skinjobs".

And it's not just the way in which the pieces fit together logically. Ultimately the BSG/Caprica story revolves around the centrality of emotion to what it means to be human, and, even more specifically, the absolute need that human beings have for relationships. And the relationships work -- most especially when they don't. The constant betrayals and deceptions, the ability of humans and Cylons to form bonds as well as their fights among themselves -- it all works.